The reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. John. (1:29-34)
It is a great temptation to see the world around us and to try to fix it. We see the troubles, the trials, the suffering and we attempt to apply our human logic in a productive way to address the many problems of our world. Engineers try to build better gadgets or devices. Doctors try to find cures. Politicians write new laws. Some people work hard to try and make their world a better place. There is certainly nothing wrong with that. However, when we read the Holy Bible we are forced into a new way of thinking. We are forced to accept something that we don’t intuitively realize or understand at first. It is this realization that creates a paradigm shift and allows us to see the world with fresh eyes.
St. John the baptist opens our eyes and changes our reality with one sentence… “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” In fact this tells us so much about John, about Our Lord Jesus Christ and about the world. John the baptist was a great prophet. He had a direct connection to God and spoke words of caution, correction and preparation to all of the people who came to him. He knows the problems of the world around him and for the most part, those problems have not really changed over two thousand years. People still get sick, some are in great debt, some have family issues, some suffer hunger and yet others suffer injustices. But John goes to the heart of the matter and tells us that the biggest problem facing each and every person who has their eyes towards the kingdom of God is not socioeconomic injustice or global freezing. Our biggest problem according to St. John is the issue of sin. As we think about sin we understand that it affects every man, woman and child both directly and indirectly. When we see the many troubles facing mankind and even creation, we can understand them to be the product of sin or rebellion against God and His teachings.
One of the shortcomings with all of the disciplines mentioned above is the ignorance of sin and how it affects us and divides us as people and disrupts our society. We are also unable to see how sin creates a wall between us and God. Sin is usually ignored because many people would rather not believe that God exists and God alone gives sin a frame of reference. Without God there is no sin, or so the thought goes. But take for instance the politician who helps create laws. If he creates a law that says murder is forbidden, will that alone stop people from committing murder? Not at all. The law does nothing to address the source of the problem which is the sinfulness in the heart of mankind. So we may hear these words of the gospel many times throughout our lives but we should never take them for granted. Sin exists, and it enveloped all of creation in its web of darkness. It had done so since the time of the first fall of Adam and Eve and it continued uninterrupted until God provided the Lamb.
The spotless lamb is an image which is used with regularity in the Old Testament. Lambs and goats were among the many animals that were offered and sacrificed on behalf of the people before the Lord. The spotless or perfect lamb in particular was sacrificed for the passover. John tells the Jews who came out to see and to hear him, that the One who was coming towards them at that very moment, was in fact the true Lamb of God. The spotless, blameless and perfect Lamb who would become the sacrifice not only for the Jewish people but for all of humanity, and even the whole cosmos. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ was still about three years away and yet His cousin St. John understood that this was ultimate purpose for the coming of Jesus Christ. He came to fix the things that can’t be fixed by doctors, engineers, lawyers, psychologists or gurus. He came to fix what could not be fixed by therapy, medicine, religious practice, meditation or self-help books. Christ came to fix our souls by wiping away our sins and freeing us from what is useless and unprofitable. In the prophecy of Isaiah chapter 1 verse 11-19 it is written:
“Of what value to me is the abundance of your sacrifices? saith the Lord: I am full of whole-burnt-offerings of rams; and I delight not in the fat of lambs, and the blood of bulls and goats: neither shall ye come with these to appear before me; for who has required these things at your hands? Ye shall no more tread my court. Though ye bring fine flour, it is vain; incense is an abomination to me; I cannot bear your new moons, and your sabbaths, and the great day; your fasting, and rest from work, your new moons also, and your feasts my soul hates: ye have become loathsome to me; I will no more pardon your sins. When ye stretch forth your hands, I will turn away mine eyes from you: and though ye make many supplications, I will not hearken to you; for your hands are full of blood. Wash you, be clean; remove your iniquities from your souls before mine eyes; cease from your iniquities; learn to do well; diligently seek judgment, deliver him that is suffering wrong, plead for the orphan, and obtain justice for the widow. And come, let us reason together, saith the Lord: and though your sins be as purple, I will make them white as snow; and though they be as scarlet, I will make them white as wool. And if ye be willing, and hearken to me, ye shall eat the good of the land:”
St. John understands the problem and he give us the solution. He offers us the way to freedom by showing us the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. May we diligently follow and be obedient to the teachings of this Lamb of God who desires to wipe away our sins. It is for this reason that He came and dwelt among us. Glory be to God forever, AMEN.