Optional Memorial: Holy Name of Jesus
First Reading: 1 Jn 2:29 – 3:6
Gospel: Jn 1:29-34
Today we celebrate the feast of Holy name of Jesus. In today’s Gospel, we see the completion of John the Baptist’s mission. His function was to prepare the way for Jesus and point people in the direction of Jesus Christ. He attributes to Jesus Christ namely the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He shares his own witness about the divinity of Jesus Christ saying, “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him”. He adds another witness from his part saying, “that this is the Son of God”.
Today we shall reflect on what he meant Jesus to be the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. The term ‘Lamb of God’ would indicate the notion of Jesus Christ as he perfect and ultimate sacrifice for sin. The Old Testament contains prophecies concerning the coming of Christ as a “guilt offering”. While the animals were sacrificed for the sins of people, such sacrificial system also paved way for the coming of Jesus Christ, who is the perfect sacrifice made for the atonement for the sins of His people (Rom 8:3; Heb 10).
The indication of Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” was taken to mean as the sacrifice of the Passover lamb celebrated at time of the Passover feast. We know that before the journey into the Promised land, there was a celebration in remembrance of God’s deliverance of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. In fact, the slaying of the Passover lamb and the applying of the blood to doorposts of the houses (Ex 12:11-13) already fore-showed Christ’s atoning work on the cross. Those for whom He died are covered by His blood, protecting us from the spiritual death.
Another important sacrifice was the daily sacrifice of lambs and animals at the temple in Jerusalem for the sins of the people (Ex 29:38-42). These daily sacrifices too indicated towards the perfect sacrifice of Christ on the cross. In fact, the Old Testament prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah foretold the coming of One who would be brought “like a lamb led to the slaughter” (Jer 11:19; Is 53:7) and whose sufferings and sacrifice would provide redemption for Israel. Of course, that person was none other than Jesus Christ, “the Lamb of God.”
We know that sin leads us to separation from God. We are all sinners and none of us is righteous before God (Rom 3:23). Because of our sin, we are separated from God, and we stand guilty before Him. Therefore, the only hope of our salvation is in being reconciled to God through His Son Jesus Christ who died on the cross for atonement for sin and to pay the penalty of the sins of all who believe in Him (Gal 3:13-15).
So when John the Baptist reveals to us that Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, he reminds us of our duty to have trust in His sacrifice for us and lead a life befitting to receive His mercy, love and forgiveness. We shall remind ourselves of the parable of Merciful Father. The father was ready to welcome the lost son at all times but the son could realise this love only when he came back to him. It is in our case too. We can’t just be passive to the sacrifice Jesus offered on the cross for us. We need to make ourselves worthy to receive the gift of love and forgiveness he ever offers us from his part. Amen.