Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
January 19th, 2014
Year A

For the first time in the Gospel, Jesus is called the “Lamb of God.” The very phrase reminds us of the Isaac and Abraham when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son. “God will provide the lamb,” Abraham told his son. It also reminds us of the blood of the paschal lamb smeared on the doorposts of the Hebrews at the time of the Passover in Exodus. Not to mention the Suffering Servant, the Messiah, found in the prophecy of Isaiah. In these two Old Testament examples, we discover the importance of sacrifice to the Israelite community. The sacrifice of lambs, goats, and cattle was intended for the remission of the sins of the people. They used the animals as a means of expiation. It is in this notion of sacrifice and offering that we find the foreshadowing of the true lamb, the one who will, as St. John notes, take away the sins of the world. Thus, in pointing to the Messiah and exclaiming: “Behold, the Lamb of God”, John is saying that no longer will these animal sacrifices suffice for the remission of human sin. Christ has come, God has entered our human condition in order to make perfect atonement for sin – both for the remission of original sin and the personal sins that we commit. He is telling us that all these ancient rites that have been a foreshadowing of the One to come is fulfilled.

Yet, there is more to this story. Jesus Himself even gives us the indication that He is the Lamb of God. In celebrating the Passover with His disciples at the Last Supper, there was no lamb of sacrifice. God had indeed provided the lamb and it is Christ Himself, a spotless unblemished lamb that was crucified on Calvary. We can see then, a connection to John’s pronouncement at the Jordan, the Last Supper and the crucifixion of Jesus.

This is precisely what is celebrated in the Mass today – though in an unbloody manner. The priest, who stands in the person of Jesus Christ, echoes the same words as our Lord Himself: this is my body, given for you; this is my blood that is shed for you. After the consecration, the priest holds up the consecrated host and makes the same proclamation as John the Baptist: Behold the Lamb of God! In other words: Behold our God! Behold the One who has come to forgive our sins, the only One who can give us true life, the One who saves us from our sins! It is the sacrifice of the Son of God – the very same sacrifice that took place on Calvary so many centuries before.

Too often we forget that this mystery – mystery because while veiled under the form of bread and wine, reveals to us a hidden reality – unfolds before our eyes. We are, in this place, taken up to Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem spoken of in the Book of Revelation. While it seem that our act of worship is rather earthly, one dimensional, it is heavenly. God meets us in this time and place in order to draw us up to heaven, to carry us away. Thus, this place is not a social hall, it is not meant for a community gathering – though fellowship is an important aspect of our faith – we are here because God is here. We are here because He calls us and beckons us to Himself. We are here because only He can forgive our sins and make us holy.

A few years ago a Pew Study was done on Catholics in America. The study showed that only 30% of Catholics believed that the Eucharist is really and truly the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. This means that nearly 70% of Catholics either do not believe at all or believe that the Eucharist is merely a symbol – not really present, not real, but a symbolic representation. Yet Jesus never said, “this is a symbol of my body” nor in John’s Gospel did he say: “I didn’t really mean that you would actually eat my flesh.” Much like the Jews in the time of Jesus, many people today just cannot accept this teaching.

Behold the Lamb of God! We are reminded today of the reality of the Eucharist, of the True Presence of Christ in this sacrament and we are taken up into that sacrifice. We are brought to Mount Calvary and we are kneeling before the foot of the Cross. This reality must sink deeply into our hearts. We must prepare our hearts to enter into it. We must make sure that our minds, hearts and souls are in the proper disposition to receive this mystery – quiet literally since we are truly fed with His Body and Blood. Hence we need to reflect: Is my soul in the right place to receive Holy Communion or am I in need of confession? Have I taken this sacrifice for granted and lost sight of the mystery that is present? Is this truly a time for prayer and a strengthening of my relationship with God? For St. Paul reminds that we are called to be holy. In this mystery, Christ sanctifies us with His Body and Blood – we are brought into communion with Him. Let us never take it for granted, may we always be in the right frame of mind, may our hearts always be open to His grace and our souls in the proper disposition to receive Him.

On the banks of the Jordan was revealed a love inexpressible. That same love is made present on this altar. Let us receive Him with joy.

















Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.



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