Encountering the Lamb of God
2nd Sunday Ordinary Time
January 14, 2018
If you have ever watched the old Cecile B DeMille film King of Kings, you might notice that this silent movie, which was created in black and white, always has Jesus wearing a garment that is whiter than what everyone else has on; in fact, Jesus even seems to have a kind of “glow” around him. Of course, in reality, Jesus usually looked like anyone else (no glow). If he looked like “God”, he would never have been crucified!
In this Sunday's gospel (John 1:35-42), Jesus, having been baptized, is mingling among the crowd of people who have come to hear and be baptized by John. John happens to catch sight of Jesus, stops what he is doing and says out loud, “Behold the Lamb of God!” John needed a special grace from the Holy Spirit in order to see that this normal-looking Jewish man from Galilee was in fact the Savior of the World. We too need the grace of the Holy Spirit to recognize Jesus at work in our lives, for he frequently makes himself known – but usually with his true appearance hidden from view.
For instance, when we look at the host suspended over the chalice during the communion rite at Mass, the priest echoes these words of John, inviting the community of believers to behold the Lamb of God. What we see with our eyes is bread and wine; what we see in faith is, in reality, the Body and Blood of the Lord. It really does take an act of faith to see him, just as it did 2000 years ago.
If you look carefully, you will find many behold moments in your own life. What is a behold moment? It is any circumstance where Jesus has come to you in disguise. We often recognize these special times of grace only in retrospect. For example, the other day I was working unexpectedly late in the office. I thought this was my idea until, as I was leaving, I ran into someone at the office door who needed communion to bring to a sick parishioner and I happened to be there at the right moment. This was not a coincidence: no, it was a behold moment, for Christ had arranged everything for the sake of this one sick person! Behold, Christ had made an appearance.
Other times you may reach a critical insight, or someone may come to you in need, or you may be moved to help someone else. These and many other circumstances can become behold moments as we realize that we have found Jesus Christ in our everyday activities. Many of the spiritual masters, and Saint Paul himself advises us to pray always. What this means is that if we form the habit of allowing everything we do to become a kind of prayer, an offering to God, we will perceive Jesus working alongside us more and more. Actually, all of life can become a kind of behold experience, for it was the Lord himself who said in Matthew 28:20, “Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.”