Word to Life — Sunday Scripture readings, Jan. 15, 2017

"Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world." -- John 1:29

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” — John 1:29

 

Jan. 15, Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

      Cycle A. Readings:

      1) Isaiah 49:3, 5-6

      Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-10

      2) 1 Corinthians 1:1-3

      Gospel: John 1:29-34

 

By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service

I went to the sacrament of reconciliation for the first time at age 33 and, as a convert to Catholicism, I was surprised by a palpable sense of relief and gratitude for God’s forgiveness.

Years later, I’m finally coming to the deeper understanding that reconciliation through Christ means he has paid the ransom to free me from my sinfulness.

But how does that work exactly, I’ve wondered.

In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist calls us to take a hard look when he says, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

Jesus’ sacrifice was for all humanity. I can see how it plays out in real life, at least symbolically. Our sinful acts are wiped away by Christ living in innocent victims of violence, oppression or discrimination when they suffer quietly and, whether through purity or willful love, harbor no resentment or desire for retribution or reparation.

But Jesus’ sacrifice is personal, too.

In college, one of my journalism classmates had cerebral palsy. I admired Rich’s perseverance and abilities particularly as a reporter for our campus newspaper. He was amazingly good at it despite his disability and never seeking special accommodations. As a fellow staffer, I occasionally advocated for him especially when he needed to interview people who were uncomfortable with his speech impediment.

But sometimes when Rich wasn’t around, I would joke with other reporters about some of his behaviors and difficulties caused by his condition. He likely sensed it all around him, but Rich never let on that he was aware of our thoughtless, shameful attitude.

To a fault, he was thoughtful and kind to me. He was an innocent, loving young man who chose to see only friendship.

In Rich, I now realize, I “behold” the Lamb of God, Christ suffering as a ransom for my sin. The person of Christ within him replaced the burden of my sin with his gifts of love and friendship.

It’s futile to try to repay such a sacrifice. I have nothing to offer that is equal to Christ. Besides, according to Psalm 40, the Lord doesn’t desire “sin-offerings.”

Instead, John suggests, he wants me to accept his gift and live through the Spirit of Jesus that I’ve received.

QUESTIONS:

In your personal experience, who has paid a ransom for your sin? How has that given you new life?

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