Today, in all the Catholic churches of the world, the gospel according to St. John, chapter 1, verses 35 to 42 is heard.
The deacon Junior Antonio tells us this biblical text:
From the confession of John the Baptist can be said what the Lord of Peter said in Caesarea Philippi: “That has not been revealed to you by anyone of flesh and blood, but by my Father of Heaven.” Moved by the Holy Ghost, the greatest of prophets presents us to the Lord as the Lamb of God. It is then this Word of the prophet, the revealed Word of God—the Word that is him and has fully manifested himself in his son Jesus Christ. He is the only savior; He is the only God, and there is no other, as the Psalmist proclaims, the only God who has become a companion on the way in his Son, true God and true man, savior of his brethren.
The Liturgy of the Christmas Word, which we have recently celebrated, and for which we too could live the renewing joy of having found the Messiah, presented us with some titles that reveal to us the identity of Jesus: the Emmanuel, the Word, the Word of God incarnate, among others.
Also the gifts of the wise men of the East, in this sense help us to understand who in Jesus, to what has come to this world. Incense indicates that it is God, the gold who is king, but myrrh is a peculiar gift, speaks for itself of his identity, but referring to his mission. The myrrh will be to honor your sacrifices. This gift predicts the mission of Jesus, the same one announced to him by John the Baptist when he points it out in the presence of his disciples as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
In the Old Testament, in the book of Genesis, God provides the lamb for sacrifice instead of Isaac and saves his life. There is also the image of the lamb at Easter dinner; and the blood marked the lintels of the houses of the Israelites and saved their firstborns from the exterminating angel. With the blood of the lamb, the covenant between God and his people was sealed.
Lamb of God is a title that expresses a mission. Jesus, who is considered by many to be the prophet, the Master, is the Messiah, the anointed, the Christ, the Word of God, the incarnate body, the Emmanuel, God with us, the definitive lamb of God, who as a sheep brought to the slaughterhouse, has come to give himself for you and me, for us, in our place to, with his death, overcome our death and with his resurrection give us new life. It is he who with his blood shed frees us from evil, from the daily deaths in which our selfishnesses bury us, and seals God’s new and definitive covenant with men.
The Letter to the Hebrews that we are reading and meditating during this week rightly discovers to us that Christ, our Lord, is the Lamb of God, who has immolated himself to deliver us from evil, to deliver us, in saying of St Teresa, “from ourselves”, from our inclination to sin.
The Evangelist John says that the Baptist noticed Jesus passing by. St Augustine said, “I am afraid of Christ passing,” because distracted, worried, he might not notice that the Lord was knocking on his door, as St. John of Jesus also says in the Revelation to illustrate to us that the Lord always seeks us.
Wouldn’t it be worth asking us, and we look at Him? How many of us are looking for Jesus? Since the day of baptism we have met Jesus, the Christ. But maybe we don’t remember that first meeting because we were baptized as little ones. Those who have been baptized as adults remember that moment perfectly, and perhaps as the evangelist they have in their memoirs until the time when it happened, so it has meant for their lives. It still happens to those who may not go to church every Sunday, but one day it was for the first time, he felt blessed, and with great peace he fell apart like Jacob until he said “God is in this place.” Then why don’t you come back? You, as St. Ambrosius says, “you must not fear”, because you have already been healed.
Today we are invited to renew our meeting, the one who marked our lives and made us discover, like the Baptist, Jesus before us. Priests, deaco, religious, seminarians, today we rekindle that meeting in which we gave our yes as sent witnesses of the Gospel. Let us seek the Lord in prayer, and when we meet our people, they will see our faces shining like Moses’s when he came down from his encounter with God. Marriages, renew the yes of the day they held hands in front of the altar, and deeply experienced that they had found the Messiah of their love, of their family.
Today, in this pandemic situation, in the face of doubts, uncertainties, narrowings, scarcity, confinement, the Lord also asks us: what are you looking for? We are certainly looking for food, grooming, medicines, goods to live, but although with heroic efforts we could stock up on them, it will happen with these as with the water that the Samaritan was going to seek from the well over and over again, it runs out. St. Teresa of Calcutta said that this world, more than material hunger, is hungry for God. We are invited to meet the one who lasts forever, the one who spiritually nourishes our person. Finding him is safe, because he is the one who passes, he continues to become encounterive. God always has the initiative. As Pope Francis says, that meeting of the four in the afternoon, of the disciples and the Baptist with the Lord, takes place every day in the greatest of miracles: the Eucharist. And John’s confession is the confession of the Church said by the priest until the end of time, the confession of the full, definitive and saving truth. This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
The Son of God entered the history of man so that man would understand history, the story of his saving step that leads us to eternity. Christ walks by our side and invites us to follow Him. Come and see. Come and see that Jesus Christ is always better, that bread is more shared and that we can be poor, yes, but brothers, family. It is then that we understand and live the gift of the Beatitudes and with renewed hopes we dream as we sow good and love what we pray in our Father: Come to us your Kingdom. And we can go tell our family, neighbors, friends, we have found the Messiah.
Let us then become infected with this salvation, and as the Baptist we continue to proclaim to the world that Jesus Christ is the only one who takes away sin.
In the face of difficulties, the Pope Francis invites us to praise God as Christ did. The Pope says at the January 13 hearing: “There is a great teaching in is prayer that for eight centuries has never stopped throbbing, which St. Francis composed at the end of his life: the ‘Canticle of the Sun Brother’ or ‘of the Creatures’. The Poor Thing did not compos it in a moment of joy, of well-being, but on the contrary, in the midst of difficulties. Francis is already almost blind, and feels in his soul the weight of a loneliness he had never felt before; the world has not changed since the start of its preaching, there are still those who are torn apart by quarrels, and it also feels the footsteps of death approaching. It could be the moment of disappointment, of extreme disappointment and of the perception of failure itself. But Francis in that moment of sadness, in that dark moment prays, how do you pray? ‘Laudato yes, my Lord…’. Pray praising. Francis dawns God for everything, for all the gifts of creation and also for death, which he courageously calls ‘sister’, ‘sister death’. These examples of saints, Christians, also Jesus, of praise of God in difficult times, open the doors to us on a very great path to the Lord and always purify us.”
In difficult times it is best to share. One journalist asked a peasant why the wheat he grew was the best in the region and allowed him to win annual farming competitions. The farmer replied that the secret to his success was that he shared his seeds with his neighbors. Why do you do that, don’t you see that your neighbors can compete with you in the contest? Look, sir, the peasant wrote down. The wind takes ripe wheat pollen from one plantation to another. If my neighbors grew wheat of a lower quality than mine, pollination would end up damaging my own plantation, and my wheat would lose quality. If I want to harvest good wheat, I have to help my neighbors do it too.
The same is often true in our lives. Those who wish to succeed should ensure that their neighbors have success as well. Those who choose to live well should help others do so as well. Because the value of a life is measured by the lives it modifies. Those who choose to be happy should help others to be happy, because one’s well-being is linked to that of others.
Saint Teresa of Jesus comes to our aid amid our concerns and we listen to her letrillas
“No peat, nothing frightens you, who God has, nothing is lacking. No peat, nothing scares you, only God is enough.”
“Patience reaches everything, who has nothing is lacking, only God is enough”.
“Raise your thoughts, go up to heaven, for nothing bewildered, nothing troubles you. Jesus Christ is still with a big chest, and whatever comes, nothing scares you.”
“Do you see the glory of the world? It is vain glory; nothing’s stable. It’s all over. It aspires to the celestial, which always lasts; faithful and rich in promises, God does not move.”
“Love him who deserves immense kindness; but there is no fine love without patience.”
“Trust and living faith keep the soul, that whoever believes and expects everything reaches it. From harassed hell, even if he sees it, he will mock his furys, who has God. Sell him helplessness, crosses, misfortunes; God is his treasure, nothing is lacking.”
“Go, then, goods of the world; go, bliss vain, even if everything loses, only God is enough.”
The blessing of Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost descend upon you, upon your families, upon the sick, upon those who care, and remain forever. Amen
Below we offer in full the allocution of the Cardinal and Archbishop of Havana, Archbishop Juan de la Caridad García.
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