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A Disciple of the Lamb of God
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
The next day he 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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, who am I to receive such a gift as new life in you through baptism? Help me to renew my baptismal promises with a deeper conviction and commitment to discipleship.
- Behold the Lamb: John refers to Jesus the Lamb, giving allusions to the paschal lamb slaughtered on Passover (Exodus 12). The blood of the lamb, spread on the door lintels was as a “pass” from the angel of death. They consumed the lamb as nourishment as they fled from their state of slavery under the Egyptians. The lamb could also conjure images of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 that was led to slaughter as an offering for the sins of the people. John’s reference makes clear that Jesus is the one who will bring a new freedom from sin through a baptism that only he can perform. That baptism will be one of fire. Thank you Lord for being the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
- Baptism of Fire: John points to Jesus as the one upon whom the Spirit came down. And he makes the distinction between his baptism with water and Jesus’s baptism with the Holy Spirit. In this passage, the Holy Spirit is manifest as a dove, a symbol of peace. True peace comes only from a life lived fully in God, which implies a turning away from sin and a turning to God. It is the path of repentance and purification. The Holy Spirit is also manifested as fire, reflecting the purifying power of God that sets our hearts ablaze with His love. It is no wonder that Jesus expresses his intention to bring fire upon the earth (Luke 12:49). But he would never put us through what he himself did not endure first. Hence he proclaims, “I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! (Luke 12:50).
- A True Disciple: John the Baptist reveals qualities of a true disciple: faith, humility, and witness. John testifies that he did not know Jesus, and yet his entire life was oriented towards preparing the way. He walked in the darkness, but for the conviction of his faith. His faith was strong because he knew who he was in relation to Jesus: the one “unfit to unstrap his sandals.” Humility was the foundation of all his other virtues, bearing fruit in a powerful witness to the Savior of the world, even to the point of death. We can pray for John’s kind of humility to live as a true disciple.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus send your Spirit upon me. Renew my faith and deepen my love for you. How can I thank you for the gift of the baptism that you endured so that I might have eternal life in you, the Father, and the Holy Spirit?
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will renew my baptismal promises and make of them a prayer of thanksgiving.
For Further Reflection: Renewal of the Baptismal Promises, https://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=1653.
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi who is dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala
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