January 15, 2017 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause
January 15, 2017
John 1: 29-34
Fr. George Smiga
You have to give it to John the Baptist. He is a man who thinks big. When he sees Jesus in today’s gospel, he says, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” John is using an image from Jewish cultic practice, by which the lamb serves to reconcile people to God. But it is when John describes the mission of this lamb that John’s thinking is most expansive. Jesus is the lamb who takes away the sin of the world. Not the sin just of Israel. Not the sin of just this or that group. But the sin of the entire world. John’s acclamation is one of the clearest places in the New Testament to assert that it is God’s intention to save all, that God’s love extends to every person, that Jesus’ mission is to reconcile the entire world to God.
John’s vision is a universal one, and it is important for us to hear it. Because all too often, we place limits on the size of God’s love. We imagine that God is about saving us as individuals, helping us move beyond our habits of sin, giving us strength to carry our crosses, leading us to reach our hopes and our dreams. God certainly is involved in all of these aspects of our lives. But God is bigger than that. God’s love extends to all people. It takes away the sin of the world. Sometimes we imagine that God is only about saving our families and our friends or those who live in the same country as we do. But God’s plan is wider. God’s love extends to every person, in every country on this planet.
Now once we appreciate the scope of God’s love, it has consequences for our own life. If God’s love is universal, it is an invitation to us to widen our love. When we claim Jesus as the Lamb of God, it is not enough only to worry whether our children and our friends have employment. We must also be concerned to create an economic climate in which there are more quality jobs for everyone who wants to work. It is not enough for us to be thankful for the positive lifestyle that we possess. We must also care for those families who struggle to feed their children and cannot find adequate healthcare. When we call Jesus the Lamb of God, it is not enough simply to love our neighbor. We must work with people of good will to create a just and legal immigration process by which those from outside of our country can become our new neighbors and share with us in the blessings that this country affords.
God does not place limits on God’s love. Neither should we. It might be easier simply to care for those who are closest to us, but that is not the gospel. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.