HOMILY FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B
HOMILY THEME: “JOHN WAS STANDING WITH TWO OF HIS DISCIPLES, AND AS HE WATCHED JESUS WALK BY, HE EXCLAIMED, ‘LOOK, HERE IS THE LAMB OF GOD!’” (John 1:35-36)
BY: Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC
Over the many years I’ve served in hospital ministry, I’ve come to recognize John the Baptist as the ideal patron saint for chaplains and all pastoral care providers. In the gospel passage we hear today, it’s just two verses that tell it all: “John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, ‘Look, here is the Lamb of God!’” (John 1:35-36) John’s mission was to announce God’s Anointed Son, to open hearts and minds to the advent of Emmanuel, God-with-us. And while some of John’s followers mistook him for the Savior, John was quick to correct them—“I am not the one.
One greater than me is to come, one whose sandals straps I am unfit to loosen.” (John 1:27) In former days, younger and healthy, it pains me to admit that my relationship with hospital patients was often a bit paternalistic. I entered patient rooms thinking myself something of a spiritual Superman. I mean, I carried the Holy Oil and Holy Communion in my pockets, the “medicine” that promised to carry the sick unto eternity. Why, I was more powerful than any doctor in the hospital! I could promise life beyond the grave!
Then I got sick—a rare lymphoma that provided me the experience of a week’s confinement in the very hospital I’d been serving for a dozen years. Hovered over by fellow chaplains, I quietly resented their otherness—they were healthy, wearing their own clothes, could go home to sleep in their own beds, had an independence that I didn’t.
Homebound for 6 weeks of recovery, I returned to the hospital a different kind of chaplain. There was no longer that imaginary wall between the bed-bound and me. I was one of them—cancer, chemotherapy, impending mortality now mine as well as theirs. And of far more significance, I was clearly not The Savior—or even a savior. Rather, I was to be, like John the Baptist, a herald proclaiming God’s presence. Indeed, God was already there—in a patient’s room, in the ER, in the pre-op holding area—long before my arrival. My mission, like John’s, was to point it out: “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”
Lamb of God! Is there any God at all? How many in this increasingly complicated and unsatisfying world are asking the question. As we begin a new year, making what positive difference we’re able, perhaps the most precious gift we can give is from our faith, announcing God’s everywhere- and-always presence: “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”