This year we will be following the Gospel of Mark for the weekday Masses and Matthew for the weekend Masses. We know that the gospels were written long after the Resurrection of Jesus and were written through the filter of the Resurrection. These were written to tell the life of the risen one and what he means for us. Mark was not an Apostle and the first to write a Gospel. Matthew’s Gospel was written long after the apostle had died. Particular early Christian communities produced the Gospels. Life and events in these communities shaped some of the content and particular emphasis of each Gospel.
In today’s Gospel, (Jn 1:29) John the Baptist introduces us to Jesus as the “Lamb of God”. With this title we already see where this man’s life is headed. The “Lamb of God” meant sacrifice.
You recall the last plague given to Egypt was the death of the first born males of humans and animals. The Hebrew people had to prepare a meal with a lamb and the blood spread over the door. An innocent lamb was sacrificed and its blood was shed to spare the Hebrew people from death. Later, according to Old Testament law, animals were used as a blood sacrifice for sins. This ritual was used to demonstrate to the Israelites the seriousness of their sins. It was necessary for the priests to sacrifice animals to pardon the sins of the people. Hebrews (9:24), written after the resurrection of Jesus, says, “For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.”
John, the Baptist, knew that Jesus was the Messiah that had been prophesied in the book of Isaiah (53:7), “He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” The Jews were awaiting his arrival and John recognized Jesus as the lamb sent by God to be both the Passover Lamb and provide the blood sacrifice for sin.
Hebrews (2:17), “For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.”
Jesus Christ, by dying on the cross, nailed all of our sins to the cross (Colossians 2:14), cleansed us from a guilty conscience (Hebrews 10:22), freed us from condemnation and from the grip of sin over our lives (Romans 8:1-2), and assured those of us who believe in him to have everlasting life with him in heaven (John 3:16).
From the bulletin of 1/16/2011