The poinsettias are gone, the lights are down, the Christmas season is over. Now we move on with the very beginning of Jesus’ public life, usually referred to as his ministry. We come upon John the Baptist seeing Jesus and pointing to him, “Behold the Lamb of God.” Our Discussion Questions for January 16, 2011, the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, will guide your Online Sunday Bible Study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.
These verses are the climactic conclusion of the prologue to the gospel according to John (1: 1-34). In the prologue John establishes the basic themes that will unfold in the ensuing drama of his gospel: Jesus, the Word from the beginning lives with God, is God. The Word became human and made his dwelling in our world of sin; those who accept Jesus become children of God and are at home in God.
Behold the Lamb of God
“Lamb of God.” We use that term so often, that it is easy for us to overlook the deep theology and the tremendous love of our God contained in his sending his Son to be the Lamb.
Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB explains that lambs suffer violence; they do not inflict it. Christ, as the victim who reveals God's love for us, is often symbolized by a lamb. When Peter is entrusted with the flock of the Lord, Peter, he is told to "feed" his sheep and lambs. Jesus sends his followers out into the world with no weapons, no money, no power - "like sheep among wolves."
If you want to go further, consider this: a scholar named Joachim Jeremias held that the original word for “lamb” in Aramaic (the language Jesus spoke) was “talyã’,” which meant not only “lamb” but also “slave” or “servant.” The Baptist may have intended both meanings, “Behold the Lamb of God,” but also, “Behold the servant of God.” If so, his words would be a direct quote of words from the First Reading for Sunday.
In this short Gospel of five verses, Fr. James Gilhooley says John e-mails us the message that Jesus is in this struggle for the long haul. He is going to stay around to hold us up and, if necessary, pick up the pieces.If we deny sin, we have no place for Jesus. But if we honestly recognize sin, Fr. Phil Bloom reminds us, we open ourselves to Jesus.
John the Baptist looked to Jesus and said, “There is the Lamb of God.” Fr. Joseph Pellegrino tells us that we have been called to do the same. This message is not addressed to Priests and Levites or even to disciples. Fr. Alex McAllister SDS says it is addressed to the whole of humanity because Christ’s coming into the world is of the greatest possible significance for the entire human race.
When the Holy Spirit Comes Down
What does it mean to see the Spirit come down on someone and remain? Abbot Philip Lawrence, OSB tells us that there are lots of ways in which the Spirit can come down on a person. And we must keep our eyes and our, hearts open. Each of us, like Jesus, needs to have enough personal intimacy with God to recognize, more precisely, that to which we are called. Fr. Ron Rolheiser explains this in detail.
Our belief that the same Spirit who guided Jesus also guides us has profound implications for defining the meaning of human existence. Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B. explains that if we are transparent to the divine life, our words and actions become signs of God's loving presence in the world. And as this joy settles, college student Amy Winkler hears the Readings for Sunday as a call to service, to a way of life in which we let the light of Christ shine in our lives.
Ans so today, on this second Sunday in Ordinary Time, may our own hearts be open to see the glory of God at work in one another and to testify to God's loving presence.
Agnus Dei - Christ Truly Present in the Eucharist
As John hailed the Son of God made man in verse 29 of today’s Gospel , so we too - in the Mass after the consecration - worship the "Lamb of God." "Behold the Lamb of God! Behold him who takes away the sin of the world; blessed are those who are called to the supper of the Lamb." As we behold Christ truly present in the Eucharist, Father Cusick reminds us, we proclaim Him the Messiah with the same awe and love with which St. John uttered his proclamation as recorded in our Gospel today.
But quite often, just before communion when we recite the “Lamb of God” instead of singing it, the sad result frequently is “LammaGod-youtakeawaythesinsoftheworld--havemercyonus” One word, often void of meaning. Fr. John Foley says once you have imaged the meaning, you will crave slowing it down!
When we say or sing, “Lamb of God” we are remembering what Jesus did for us and what he has empowered us to do for others. We are remembering his sacrifice to make God’s love real on earth. We are reminding ourselves that joining Jesus in sacrificial love is the only way we can be his followers.
Liturgical Church or Bible Church?
The Protestant Church is all about the Bible; the Catholic Church is all about the Sacraments. Right? Not exactly. When it comes to personal Bible reading, Protestants often put Catholics to shame. But as far as Sunday worship goes, it is hard to find a more biblical service than the Mass. Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio points out that the Readings are awesome enough, but even the prayers of the Mass are chock full of Scripture.
The past 20 years or so have seen an explosion of conversions from Protestantism to Catholicism. During that time, a certain common narrative seems to be associated with these conversions. On the other hand, there has also been an even greater exodus out of the Catholic Church over the past 40 years. Some of that is people leaving Christianity altogether, but much of it is Catholics becoming Evangelical. Eric Sammons - a convert to Catholicism himself - looks at the the narrative for that type of conversion and explains the differences.
In last week's Burning Question, we had put up a question to the community about why it is imperative for parents to have their children baptized as infants. And an interesting exchange about Infant Baptism and the Sacraments materialized between a Protestant reader named Gary and our Theology editor Paul Dion, STL. Follow the lively discussion here.
And two weeks ago at the Consumer Electronics Show held in Las Vegas, the big buzz was for tablet computers. What we found fascinating was comparing the sales pitch for these new tablets with the one given by Apple CEO Steve Jobs last year when he announced the iPad. Here's what every Catholic can learn from Steve Jobs.
New US Lectionary & More
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has announced it has canonically approved the publication of New American Bible Revised Edition. The forthcoming fourth edition, according to the USCCB, aims at making use of the best manuscript traditions available, translating as accurately as possible, and rendering the result in good contemporary English. Check it out here.
From the Vatican, the Pope last week baptized 21 Infants and noted the challenges facing parents. Benedict XVI highlighted that the social context that Christian families face today demands collaboration from the Christian community and increasing support from parishes. He also said that there is "urgent need" for Christians to "proclaim the Gospel with their life." And noting how holiness helps in understanding the mysteries of the faith, the Pope explained Purgatory using as an example the insights gleaned by St. Catherine of Genoa.
A Brutal Weekend - the AZ Shooting & More
Every now and then the Lord just has you look at something in depth and experience it to the top. It was that sort of weekend for Msgr. Charles Pope and the Lord was clear that he wanted him to meditate deeply and experience personally the tragedy of the taking of human life. His lesson came in three stages, bannered by the senseless shooting in Tucson, AZ last Sunday.
From Denver, CA, Archbishop Charles Chaput expressed anguish over the recent Arizona shooting that left 6 dead and over a dozen wounded, noting particularly the life and deep Catholic faith of victim Judge John Roll.
Paul Dion, STL, on the other hand, offers a reflection on the immorality that can come with the reckless exercise of our right to free speech. In his opinion piece "Scandal of the Weak," He opines that no one is free to inundate the weak with speech that can influence them and cause them to act in a nefarious way. Those who persist in using speech with violent pictures cannot exculpate themselves from the effects of what they have put out into the community atmosphere under the guise of freedom of speech.
YouTube Celeb "Golden Voice" Ted Williams
His YouTube video has reportedly received more hits than Susan Boyle's initial viral video. Ted Williams was a homeless Ohio man with a golden radio voice. He had lived a seemingly hopeless life of homelessness, drugs and alcohol. And then his YouTube video went viral-crazy. Now he faces new opportunities to become a sports announcer, maybe with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Through it all, the homeless man credits God for for his new-found YouTube fame and his golden voice.
But the real hero of this story is the woman he left behind. Patricia Kirtley raised four daughters alone after Williams split 23 years ago and dove down the rabbit hole of drugs. Not only that, Kirtley took in the baby boy the radioman had with another woman and raised him as her own. Oh, and by the way, she's partially blind.
Lastly, Judith Costello gives us the latest installment to her blog "Mysteries of Parenting." In "Elevating teh Ordinary," she reflectas on simple words and ordinary gestures. Yet, these four moments in time were transformative. They reminded her that God can take the smallest offering we might make and turn it into something miraculous.
Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a blessed new week.
Keep the Faith. Peace.
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