Thursday, January 3, 2019
1) Opening prayer
Father, You make known the salvation of mankind
at the birth of Your Son.
Make us strong in faith
and bring us to the glory You promise.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - John 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."
• In the Gospel of John, history and symbol join together. In today’s text, the symbolism consists in recalling texts of the Old Testament which reveal hints to the identity of Jesus of Nazareth. In these few verses (Jn 1:29-34) we find the following expressions which contain a symbolical description: 1) Lamb of God; 2) Who takes away the sins of the world; 3) He existed before me; 4) The descent of the Spirit in the form of a dove; 5) Son of God.
• Lamb of God. This title brings to mind the Exodus and the night of the first Passover. The blood of the Paschal Lamb, with which the doors of the houses were signed, was a sign of liberation (Ex 12:13-14). Jesus is the new Paschal Lamb who liberates His people (1 Co 5:7; 1 P 1:19; Rev 5:6-9).
• Who takes away the sins of the World. This recalls a very beautiful phrase of the prophecy of Jeremiah: “There will be no further need for everyone to teach neighbor or brother: “You will know the Lord, they will all know me, from the least to the greatest, says the Lord; since I shall forgive their guilt and never more call their sin to mind” (Jer 31:34).
• He existed before me. This recalls several texts of the Books of Wisdom, in which God’s Wisdom, which existed before all the other creatures and which was with God, fixed her dwelling among the people of God (Pro 8:22-31; Eccl 24:1-11 (the Book of Sirach)).
• The descent of the Spirit in the form of a dove. It denotes creative action where it is said that the “Spirit of God sweeping over the waters” (Gen 1:2). The text of Genesis suggests the image of a bird which flies over its nest. An image of the new creation is thanks to the action of Jesus.
• Son of God. This is the title which summarizes all the others. The best comment on this title is the explanation from Jesus himself: “The Jews answered Him: ‘We are stoning You not for doing a good work, but for blasphemy: though You are only a man, You claim to be God”. Jesus answered: “Is it not written in your Law: I said: you are gods?” So the word ‘gods’ refers to those people to whom the word of God was addressed (and Scripture cannot be set aside). Yet to someone whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world you say, “You are blaspheming because I said, I am Son of God? If I am not doing My Father’s work there is no need to believe Me, but if I am doing it, then even if you refuse to believe in Me, at least believe in the work I do; then you will know for certain that the Father is in Me and I am in the Father” (Jn 10:33-38).
4) Personal questions
• Jesus offered himself completely for the whole of humanity. What can I offer to help my neighbor?
• We have also received the Holy Spirit. How conscious or aware am I that I am His temple?
5) Concluding prayer
Sing a new song to Yahweh,
for He has performed wonders,
His saving power is in His right hand
and His holy arm. (Ps 98:1)