Behold the Lamb of God
by Fr. Gabriel Stack, O.Praem.
It is Jesus Himself who focuses our attention on St. John the Baptist, and on his role as prophet of the Most High. St. John represents a very important milestone in fulfilling the divine plan in the Old Testament tradition. As in the lives of Noah, David, Moses, and Elijah, with John it is clear that God takes the initiative, choosing the specific individuals He uses to speak to His chosen people.
The divine plan which John speaks about has two parts: a call to repentance, and a baptism for moving away from sin. For those who hear the call and respond, the reward is a “light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.” This light is not a thing but a person: the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
John’s greatness is due not only to his message but also to his humility. He is flooded by the radiant light of the Messiah. He is anxious to point out the Messiah. And he is equally anxious not obstruct Christ’s radiance from reaching others. “He must increase; I must decrease.”
Living in the bright light of Christ has specific consequences. The first is to recognize that Jesus, the Lamb of God, is already in our midst. The second is to recognize that each of our specific actions either point out or obscure the vision of Jesus to others.
We will hear St. John tell tax collectors, “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed,” and to soldiers, “Do not practice extortion; do not falsely accuse anyone; and be satisfied with your wages.” The actions of these tax collectors and soldiers cast much more darkness than light.
God has a prophetic role for each of us. Like St. John, we point out Jesus to others, and we work not to obscure the view that others should have of the Lamb of God in our specific words and everyday actions.
Two simple examples: Instead of thinking yourself virtuous when you hit a classmate over the head with a Latin book after he asks to copy homework, do a good deed. Tell the classmate to sit next to you and you two will work on those convoluted sequence-of-tenses passages together. Second, knowing that it really is someone else’s job to pick up the trash on the parking lot, or someone else’s job to give to the sisters to wash that cup still on the table, do it anyway—even if it means going a bit out of your way.
In these small ways and an almost infinite number of others, you prophetically point out in your daily life that the Lamb of God is in your midst. Consequently, you see and do all things in His light. Which, in itself, is a call to repentance and a moving away from sin.
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