Read Isaiah 49:3,5-6, Ps. 40:2,4,7-10, 1 Corinthians 1:1-3, John 1:29-34
“The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
Last Sunday, we celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany of Jesus. The word “Epiphany” means “coming to light, revelation, or manifestation.” The gifts of the wise men brought to light (manifested) the identity of Jesus as King, Priest, and Saviour. Herod trembled at the news of the birth of another king but seeing the wise men, he realized that the scriptures concerning the Messiah had finally come to pass.
Somehow, our readings today convey another Epiphany. First, in today’s first reading, we hear the prophet Isaiah saying that God would make the nation of Israel the light of the nations. This prophecy is fulfilled concretely in our Gospel passage with John the Baptist pointing out Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins (the darkness) of the world.
Meanwhile, in today’s first reading, St. Paul reminds us Christians of our calling to be saints, that is to say, we are called to be lights reflecting the light of Christ in our world. The question before us today is: What kind of light am I? To answer this question, let us consider the lessons contained in our readings.
1. Be Committed to Nation Building
In our first reading today, God speaks to the entire nation of Israel: “You are my servant Israel in whom I will be glorified.” God wants to be glorified in you. It is not enough that we complain about our leaders, we must ask ourselves: What exactly am I doing in my own little way to make my country the pride of the nations?
There are so many problems we face as a nation, so why not pick out one and devote your life to solving it? Do you have your PVC? No matter what it would take you, go and collect yours, don't sell it, it is your birthright to progress.
2. Aspire for Sainthood
Many Christians today have practically given up on themselves and on their childhood fascinations of sainthood. Thus, you hear statements of self-defeat such as _body no be firewood, after all, no be me kill Jesus_.
What is the essence of being a Christian if, at the end of this life, we fail to make heaven (become saints)? Isn’t it better that we are not Christians at all? A mediocre (average) Christian is just as good as a non-Christian and sadly there are now too many of us who settle for average; we are neither hot nor cold. (Cf. Rev. 3:15-16)
Who is a Saint? A saint is an example, a role model, and a light. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told us: “You are the light of the world… let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
Stop trying to be like others; dare to be different. You don’t have to do evil because it is popular, you may assume “everybody is doing it” but this is the greatest lie of the devil. Everybody is not doing it, no matter how bad things are, there are still some living saints among us. There are still people who are righteous and are prepared to die than commit sin.
Within the same portion where Paul says we are called to be saints, he also added: “sanctified in Christ Jesus.” Without personal sanctification, we cannot be saints. To shine, we must reflect light from above, we must be connected to a source. Jesus would say: “Cut off from me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5).
3. Introduce Jesus Christ to Everyone You Meet
John the Baptist pointed Jesus to the crowds that followed him. “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.’”(John 1:29-30).
How often do you speak about Jesus in your daily interactions with people? Do you try to make Jesus popular? Are you committed to making disciples for Christ? This is our mission statement as Christians to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15).
Christianity suffered a great blow in this country when the emphasis shifted from winning souls (the message of repentance) to prosperity. Don’t be deceived, “for the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). If you must be a light, then let everything about you talk about Jesus.
4. Be a Lamb, not a Lion.
By referring to Jesus as the Lamb of God, John was already pointing our minds to the death of Jesus on the cross for the salvation of the world. Jesus himself would say: “The Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28)
There is more joy in giving than in receiving. It is better to serve others than to lord it over them. Be willing to make sacrifices for the benefit of others. Be a person of peace. “If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if anyone would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” (Matthew 5:39-41)
Have you ever tried to start a conversation about Jesus with someone only to find yourself speechless? It means you do not know Jesus or you have too much junk in you because “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:24, Luke 6:45). What is abundant in your heart? Have you read the entire Bible on your own? If yes, then it is time to read it again. Aim for perfection. It is better not to be a Christian than to be an average Christian.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, may I become another John the Baptist by the way I live. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Isaiah 49:3,5-6, Ps. 40:2,4,7-10, 1 Corinthians 1:1-3, John 1:29-34).
@Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu