Thursday, January 3, 2013

Gospel Reflection

January 03, 2013
Thursday – Year of Faith
Christmas Weekday
by  Rev. Fr. Rufino 'Jun' Sescon, Jr., (Chaplain, Sto. Niño de Paz Greenbelt Chapel)
12;15PM Mass at Sto. Nino de Paz Chapel, Greenbelt, Makati

Reading 1 1 Jn 2:29–3:6

If you consider that God is righteous, you also know that everyone who acts in righteousness is begotten by him.

See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure.

Everyone who commits sin commits lawlessness, for sin is lawlessness. You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who remains in him sins; no one who sins has seen him or known him.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 98:1, 3cd-4, 5-6

R. (3cd) All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
Sing praise to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
sing joyfully before the King, the LORD.
R. All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.

Gospel Jn 1:29-34

John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’ I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.” John testified further, saying, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain upon him. I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”


Happy New Year po sa inyong lahat.

In our Gospel today, we encounter a seeming irony or paradox. In the beginning, John immediately pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God, immediately declaring that Jesus is the Lamb of God. But as he continues, John would say, "I did not know Him. I did not recognize Him." How come John is declaring one thing, yet he is also saying he actually did not know Jesus?

John is saying that Jesus is the fruit, not of his hindsight, not of his own vision, but the fruit of revelation. That if ever he was able to know Jesus, it was because God revealed it to him.

And how did John see the revelation of God? We go back to his declaration, "He is the Lamb of God." What do we mean when we say, "He is the Lamb of God?" Every time we attend the mass, as we celebrate the mass, just before receiving the Holy Communion, the priest says, "Behold the Lamb of God." What is that indication for? What are we supposed to do when we hear the Lamb of God?

Perhaps a better way to appreciate what do we mean by the Lamb of God, is also understanding its opposite. In the Bible, we also see the origin of 'scapegoat'. I am sure we all use that; we all know the meaning of scapegoat. In the Hebrew tradition, a goat is set free, seemingly to absorb all the sins of the people. And that goat is brought outside the city to be stoned to death, so that all the sins will also be removed. But what is the difference between the scapegoat and the Lamb of God?

Yes, the scapegoat absorbs all the sins but nobody admitted it was their sin. The goat truly became a scapegoat. It is the lame excuse of everyone. There is a difference because in the Lamb of God, the Lamb absorbs all the sins, even takes away the sins of the world, but we have to admit it is our fault. Mea culpa. My fault. My fault. My grievous fault.

No wonder John was always pointing to the Lamb of God. He is telling the people, yes, He did forgive our sins, but we have also to admit our sins.

Brothers and sisters, are we looking at scapegoats, or are we looking at the Lamb of God? Nowadays, everyone is at fault except me. That is the sickness, the tendency of today's society. It's the fault of my environment. It's the fault of my parents. It's the fault of my boss. It's the fault of this world. But never my fault. Never my offense.

Yes, we have just began a new year. And we pray that we may truly see the Lord. That like John the Baptist, we can only see the Lord, the Lamb of God, if we ask the Lord to purify ourselves. In the First Reading, we are told, "He who remains in sin will never see, will never know God". Because the revelation of God - remember the Beatitudes? "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God."

And so as we are still relishing the start of the New Year, we ask the Lord to purify our hearts. Yes, there are things we have to admit. We don't have to make excuses before God. We don't have to look for scapegoats. Jesus is only wanting to hear the words, "I am sorry". You don't have to explain, you don't have to point at somebody else. 'I am sorry' is enough. And 'I am sorry' is also enough for us to see the goodness of God.

Every time you see the priest holding high the Host, saying, "Behold, the Lamb of God", it is an indication of contrition, that before we receive the Lord, we humbly say, "Lord, I am sorry. Purify my heart this year, so that I may see Your goodness, the wonderful plans You have in store for me. You are the Lamb of God. You take away the sins in my heart and in the world." Amen.