YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 2ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: CALLED TO BEAR TESTIMONY TO THE LAMB
BY: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
HOMILY: R1 – 1Sam 3:3-10,19
RESP PS – Ps 40:2,4,7-10
R2 – 1Cor 6:13-15,17-20
GOSPEL – Jn 1:35-42
One day, Francis of Assisi invited one of the young friars to join him on a trip into the town to preach. The young friar was so honored at receiving such an invitation from St. Francis that he quickly accepted.
They paused beneath a tree and Francis stooped to help return a fallen young bird to its nest. They went on and stopped in a field crowded with reapers and Francis bent his back to help load the hay onto a cart. From there they went to the town square where Francis lifted a bucket of water from the well for an old woman and carried it home for her. All day long he and St. Francis walked through the streets and byways, alleys and, suburbs, and they rubbed shoulders with hundreds of people. Each time they stopped, the young friar was sure that St. Francis would stop and preach. But no words of great truth or wise discourse issued from the saint’s mouth.
Finally, they went into the Church, but Francis only knelt silently to pray. At the end of the day, the two headed back home. Not once had St. Francis addressed a crowd, nor had he talked to anyone about the Gospel. The young monk was greatly disappointed, and he said to St. Francis, “I thought we were going into town to preach?” St. Francis responded, “My son, we have preached. We were preaching while we were walking and in everything we did. We were seen by many and our behavior was closely watched. It’s of no use to walk anywhere to preach unless we preach everywhere as we walk!
Beloved in Christ, the readings of today’s liturgy bring to our consciousness that we have all been called in various capacities to bear testimony to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. The exemplary model of the Holy man, Francis, in the introit story, who never walked everywhere to preach, but preached everywhere as he walked; is an indication that we can preach the Gospel and win souls for Christ, without the microphone. Our lives of testimony in perpetuating the mission of Jesus, who went about doing good (Acts 10:38), speak volumes of our commitments in answering this Divine call, Preaching the Gospel at all times.
In other words, despite our status in the ecclesiastical hierarchical structure, whether, clergy, religious or lay, everyone is called to play a role and contribute our quota in the, “Missio Ad Gentes,” “Missio Ad Intra,” and “Missio Ad Extra” ; by bearing testimony to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, by our lives, unique gifts and blessings.
The first reading describes how Eli, helped the young prophet, Samuel, to recognise the voice of God. To which each of us is charged to help the other recognize God’s voice and answer the Divine call.
Whereas, in the Gospel, John the Baptist, claims that his vocation is to introduce Jesus to two of his own disciples as the “Lamb of God,” suggesting Jesus’ vocation to become a sacrificial lamb to atone for our sins. The disciples followed Jesus to his residence, accepting his invitation to “come and see.” They stayed with him that day. Then Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus, presenting him to Jesus as the Messiah.
*JOHN’S TESTIMONY:BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD*
In today’s Gospel, we see John the Baptist, a self-effacing figure, whose role is second to none in bearing testimony to the Lamb. He is extolled in the scriptures for his expertise in testifying to the Lamb of God. He selflessly directed his disciples to Jesus.
A very salient question becomes unavoidable here, “To whom do we direct our children, friends and disciples?” John the Baptist gave testimony to Jesus by pointing Him: ” _BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD”_ (Jn 1:29, 36) helping them like Eli to recognise God’s voice. In that progressive pattern, Andrew called him the Messiah and helped his brother, Peter to recognise the Lamb (v 41). The same thing is applicable to Philip, who helped Nathaniel recognize the Lamb.
We hereby, make a little observation; in the Synoptic Gospels: Jesus called the disciples away from their fishing boats to follow him (Mt 4:18-22, et al.). But in the Fourth Gospel, they went to Him at John’s direction rather than in response to Jesus’ call. Instead of leaving their boats, they left John. So, the discipleship in the fourth Gospel requires an agent to introduce the other to Jesus, the Lamb of God; which is the message of the day. *_HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE I INTRODUCED TO JESUS?_*
*BIBLICAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE LAMB OF GOD*
This is one of the most meaningful title given to Jesus in the Bible. It sums up the love, the sacrifice, and the triumph of Christ. John’s introduction brought five pictures of the “lamb,” viz:
(i) *The Lamb of Atonement* (Lv 16:20-22).
A lamb was brought to the Temple on the Day of Atonement (“Yom Kippur”).
(ii) *The Lamb of Daily Atonement* (Ex 29:38-42; Nm 28:1-8).
This was the lamb sacrificed at the Temple every morning and evening to atone for the sins of the Jews.
(iii) *The Paschal Lamb* (Ex 12:11.).
The Paschal Lamb’s blood saved the firstborn of the Jewish families in Egypt from the “Angel of destruction.”
(iv) *The Lamb of the Prophets,* an image portraying One Who, by dying a sacrificial death, would redeem God’s people: “The gentle lamb led to the slaughterhouse” (Jer 11:19), “like a lamb to the slaughter” (Is 53:7). Both, as we know, refer to the sufferings and sacrificial death of Christ.
(v) *The Lamb of the Conquerors.* The picture of a horned lamb on the Jewish flag at the time of the Maccabaean Liberation War was used as a sign of conquering majesty and power. The great Jewish conquerors like Samuel, David and Solomon were described by the ancient Jewish historians as “horned lambs.”
*_IMITATING THE LAMB IN BEARING TESTIMONY TO JESUS_*
For us to bear effective testimony to the lamb, we need to live a lamb-like life, by adopting some positive lessons from the life of a lamb as x-rayed in Isaiah 53:7 and Jeremiah 11:19. They include:
The lamb is known primarily for it’s innocence (aturu amaghi aghugho). This innocence of life, is what St Paul encourages us to adopt in the Second reading. Paul explains to the Corinthians that their Divine call is a call to holiness. Hence, they need to keep their bodies pure and souls holy, because by Baptism they have become parts of Christ’s Body and the temples of the Holy Spirit. We too, by our innocence of life are required to win souls to Christ.
The lamb, from the Old Testament analysis is used for sacrifice in making sin offerings of Yomkippur and daily sin offerings. Jesus as the Lamb of God, sacrificed his Divinity inorder to win us back to God and restore peace to the broken world. We too, must learn to sacrifice our ego, pride, dignity, respect and selflessness inorder to heal the brokenness around our families, homes, marriages, communities and world.
The lamb is a symbol of obedience. The obedience of a lamb is second to none. That is why the phrase, “following sheepishly,” is used to represent radical obedience. Even the lamb being taken to the slaughter, unlike the goat makes no hesitation or agitations. Jesus as the Lamb of God, was obedient to death, even death on a cross (Phil 2:8). We too, need total obedience to the will of God and not to our own will. Obedience to the will of God, requires patience and endurance, which win the race for us (Lk 21:19); And with which we win more souls for Christ.
Finally, a group of tourists who were rushing to the train station inorder to catch up with their boarding time, happened to frighten a poor blind Muslim girl who hawks soft drinks and water at the train station. The little girl heard sounds of those running and having the feelings that there was panic, started running for her dear life. As she moved, she ran into the direction of the tourists. And having hit them, she fell down with all her goods. The four young men started shouting at her as they boarded the train without pitying her. As the train was about leaving, one of them alighted as the train departed, moved towards the fallen poor girl, aided her, by lifting her from the ground. “Why did you run into us? Were you not seeing our direction?” The tourist asked the poor girl. “I am blind and do not see. I only heard the sound of your feet and felt there was panic. That is why I ran off and I couldn’t see your directions” The poor girl responded. Feeling deep pity for the poor girl, he helped her pack her good. After which he paid for the damaged ones. As he was about departing, the poor Muslim blind girl grabbed him and asked, “Are you Jesus?” As you can see, I’m a human being. Why do you ask? He retorted. The young girl exclaimed, “I asked because this is the kind of thing I heard Jesus went about doing.” She made a resolve to become a Christian from that day.
Beloved, remember the introit nuggets from St Francis, ” _It’s of no use to walk anywhere to preach unless we preach everywhere as we walk!”_ And for Bishop Godfrey Onah, *”Every Christian can and should lead others to encounter Jesus by being the best of who he is and serving God in what he does, thus letting the image of God in him, which has been redeemed by Christ, shine out in its splendour”*
MAY THE HOLY SPIRIT HELP US TO BEAR TRUE TESTIMONY TO THE LAMB IN THE SPIRIT OF INNOCENCE, OBEDIENCE AND SACRIFICE FOR THE GOOD OF ONE ANOTHER.
*GOD BLESS YOU*
_FR GERALD MUOKA_