Jesus, the Lamb of God: OUR HEALER AND CONSOLER

Readings: Is. 49: 3, 4-6; Ps. 39(40): 2, 4, 7-10; 1 Cor. 1: 1-3; Jn. 1: 29-34

Jesus, the Lamb of God: OUR HEALER AND CONSOLER

There is a hymn we sing, “Freely, freely, you have received, freely, freely, give….
In this second Sunday in Ordinary Time, God is telling us through Prophet Isaiah in the first reading, that, “I will make you [Christian] a light to the nations, so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth!”

Even though the Christmas season is ended, the light of Christmas must not die, it must not go with the wind. The festive and colourful celebrations experienced should not be the end of the Christmas excitement. Christmas should continue to bear fruits only if we let it show that Jesus is Lord and we live in a way that we make Him happy. He says of us: “You are the light of the world, a city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden” (Mt. 5:14).

Christians must allow the light of Christ with which God endowed and decorated us to shine forth on others. In our second reading, St. Paul affirms his call to be an Apostle. In accepting this call, he resolved to do the will of God in obedience and holiness. This is a mission and a call entrusted to each one of us: to obey God and to lead saintly lives devoid of sin.

In the gospel text, John the Baptist identifies and presents Jesus as the Lamb of God. By this action, John accomplished his mission as the forerunner of Christ. What is your mission as a baptized Christian? Are you a passive consumer of spiritual goods or an active participant and contributor?
A presidential candidate has repeatedly said Nigeria is a “consumer nation rather than a productive nation.” He is absolutely right. I believe that we have been greedily and scandalously consuming instead of frantically producing. It is time to produce, and to be creative in this too.

John the Baptist is a good example of how to be productive both spiritually and materially; he teaches us by his spartan lifestyle (simplicity) and how we ought to approach the call and will of God. He brought people to repentance, baptized them and denounced evil such as Herod marrying his brother’s wife.

We too are required to show people the way of salvation; bring others to know Christ, like Andrew did after having personally encountered Christ. We read in John 1: 41 – 42 “First, he found his brother Simon, and he said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah,’ And he led him to Jesus….”

After the Christmas “midnight Mass” I saw many people going to the manger erected in the Pro-Cathedral to admire the infant Jesus, while some took the powder made available to rub it on their faces, thus expressing happiness that the infant King was born. Where have you left Jesus since then? In the manger? In the Christmas party hall? Where is Jesus now? I hope He is in your heart and you can find Him in your neighbour.

When we choose to live exemplary lives, our thoughts, words and actions will reflect Christ in a world that suffers some sort of “spiritual glaucoma”. Blinded by falsehood, pride, unhealthy rivalry and selfish ambitions, the world seems to be in darkness. Sin and evil continue to permeate the hearts of individuals, resulting in senseless killings, violence and a break down in morality. The inhuman incidences of kidnapping and killings do not seem to diminish, they rather increase in the severity of brutality, as the example of the 7th of January, 2023, when an unspecified number of men said to be armed with AK 47 riffles attacked the train station at Igueben, Edo State, and kidnapped a number of passengers who were waiting to board the train to Warri, and this Sunday morning, Rev. Father Isaac Achi of Minna Catholic Diocese was killed and burnt to ashes at the parish house in Kafin-Koro, Minna, while his assistant priest was shot at badly, injured and is receiving treatment at a hospital.

While we continue to beg those who target to kill priests and other innocent victims to stop these atrocities in the name of God, as Christians, Jesus the innocent suffering Lamb of God should be our source of strength and comfort. Psalm 30:5 reminds us that, “weeping may last long through the night but joy comes with the dawning of the day” (Ps. 30:5). If we endure suffering patiently and carry our cross in prayer. Jesus comes to our aid and lightens our burdens.

For those of us here in this church or at home, threatened by illness, in the cross of Christ is our healing. As we approach the Eucharistic table every time in our worship, we receive Jesus “the Lamb of God.” As we consume this spotless Lamb in Holy Communion may He cleanse us, transform us and wipe away our sins so that we may experience inner joy and renewal.

Realize that we invoke Jesus the Lamb of God at three different moments during Mass: first, during the Gloria, when we sing or recite “Lord God, Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us”; second, just before communion, when we say, “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, have mercy on us…,” and, finally, when the celebrant invites us to receive communion, proclaiming “This is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper.”

The challenge before us is to renew our commitment to our personal calling to be more faithful witnesses to the Lamb of God.
As we gradually get closer to Nigeria’s general elections, the identity of every Christian as light of Christ is being put to the test. In our role as witnesses to the light of Christ, we need to be careful that no shadow of ourselves, our personal ambitions, our self-seeking, clouds our witness to the light of Christ.

We must avoid political misconduct.
Avoid the Esau-syndrome, who mortgaged his birth right over a plate of pottage (cf. Gen. 25:29-33).
Avoid the way of Judas Iscariot, who sold His Master for the price of a slave (cf. Mt. 26:15).
Avoid selfish interests as the crowds who chose the criminal Barabbas to be released and rather have Jesus crucified (cf. Mt. 27:17-22).

Rather, let us light up the dark aspects of Nigeria and seek what builds, what unites and brings about progress. And as Philippians 2:15 says, “So may you be without blame, simple sons of God, without reproof, in the midst of a depraved and perverse nation, among whom you shine like lights in the world.”

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