FR. TONY'S JOKES OF THE WEEK

1)  A little boy was listening to a long and excessively boring sermon in Church on vocation to priesthood and religious life. Suddenly the red sanctuary lamp caught his eye. Tugging his father’s sleeve, he said, “Daddy, when the light turns green can we go home?”

2) A Catholic boy and a Jewish boy were talking, and the Catholic boy said, “My priest knows more than your rabbi.” The Jewish boy said, “Of course he does! That is because you tell him everything in confession.”

3)  The son-in-law’s testimony: A rich Jewish businessman named Raymond went to meet Ben, his new son-in-law to be. He said to Ben, “So, tell me, Ben, my boy, what you do?” “I study the Theology,” Ben replied. “But Ben, you are going to marry my daughter! How are you going to feed and house her?” “No problem,” says Ben, “I study Theology, and it says God will provide.” “But you will have children; how will you educate them?” asked Raymond. “No problem,” says Ben, “I study Theology, and it says God will provide.” When Raymond returned home, his wife anxiously asked him what Ben was like. “Well,” said Raymond, “he’s a lovely boy. I only just met him, and he already thinks I’m God.” (Source: Jewish Jokes)

4) Worse pastors: At morning Mass, the pastor announced to the congregation that the bishop had just appointed him to another parish. After the Mass, a woman came up to him and expressed her dismay at his leaving. “Oh, I’m sure the bishop will send you someone who’s far better than I am,” The pastor tried to console her. “No,” the woman replied, “that won’t happen, and that can’t happen.” “Why not?” asked the priest, unable to resist the temptation to hear a compliment in the superlative about himself. “Because,” the woman said, “I’ve seen five pastors now in this parish, and each new pastor was worse than the last.”

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HOMILYILLUSTRATIONSMESSAGESCOMMENTARY

During the 1966 political campaign, Jimmy Carter and had shaken hands with 300,000 Georgians, extolling his good points, and asking them to vote for him. He asked 300,000 to support him, but thinking about that later in his life brought him to his knees. See homily illustration below to find out why.

Fr. Tony’s 8-Minute Homily

2B Ordinary Time

Fr. Tony’s Homily (everything on one page)

Introduction

The main theme of today’s Scripture readings is Divine vocation – that everyone is called by God to be a witness for Christ by doing something for others with his or her life, using his or her unique gifts and blessings. Hence, today’s readings remind us of our personal and corporate call to become witnesses for Jesus, the Lamb of God, by leading lives of holiness and purity.

Starter Anecdote(s)

Select one or two of the following illustrations to insert here. View more by clicking on the “ILLUSTRATIONS” tab above. Feel free to insert more throughout the homily if so desired (but this should not be overdone).
Illustration A — Eureka! Eureka!

Eureka! Eureka!

According to legend, Hieros II (the king of the Greek City State Syracuse on the island of Sicily) asked Archimedes (a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer, (287-212 BC) to find a method for determining whether a crown was made of pure gold or of gold mixed with silver.

One day when Archimedes stepped into his bath and noticed that the water rose as he sat down, he ran out of the house naked shouting, “Eureka! Eureka!” (= “I have found it!”)  The method to determine whether or not a crown was pure gold, discovered by Archimedes in his bathtub, was to compare its weight to its volume. If one had one pound of gold and one pound of silver and submerged them in water, the silver would make the water rise higher than the gold, because it is less dense than gold, and therefore, larger in volume, it takes up more space by displacing more water. Archimedes compared the volume of water displaced by the suspect crown with that displaced by a pure gold crown of equal weight to identify successfully the pure gold crown.

Archimedes did not “find” this truth by searching after it — although he might have spent days thinking about a solution to the problem.  His “find” came as an unexpected surprise.  He had probably noticed the water in the bathtub rising hundreds of times before, but its significance didn’t “click” in his brain until that “eureka” moment.

Today’s Gospel describes how John discovered Jesus as “the Lamb of God,” and how Andrew, Simon, and Nathaniel discovered him as the “Promised Messiah” quite unexpectedly.  Jesus was their “Eureka.”

(Fr. Tony) http://frtonyshomilies.com/
Illustration B — A lamb on the roof

A lamb on the roof

In the city of Werden, Germany, there stands a Catholic Church with a lamb carved out of stone and placed on its roof. It was said that when the Church was being built, a stone-carving mason fell from a high scaffold. His co-workers rushed down, expecting to find him dead. But to their surprise and joy, he was alive and only slightly injured.

How did he survive? A flock of sheep was passing beneath the tower at that time, and he landed on top of a lamb. The lamb broke his fall and was crushed to death, but the man was saved.

To commemorate that miraculous escape, he carved a lamb in stone and placed it on the tower, in gratitude for the lamb that saved his life. Today we are here at this Liturgy to remember and salute another Lamb Who died a cruel death to save not just one man, but all mankind.

In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist introduces Jesus as the “Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world.” Peter said that the full weight of our sins fell upon Jesus (1 Pet. 2:24). And the apostle Paul explained, “For our sake [God] made [His Son Incarnate] to be sin who did not know sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in [Jesus]” (2 Cor. 5:21). We all have fallen in sin, but on the cross Jesus took the punishment for our sin upon Himself. He now offers eternal life to all who personally put their Faith in Him (Jn. 3:1-16). (Msgr. Arthur Tonne).

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)
Illustration C — Jimmy Carter: Sharing the faith

Jimmy Carter: Sharing the faith

Former President Jimmy Carter is not shy about sharing the Faith. He and wife Rosalynn have been on numerous Faith-sharing missions in America and overseas. In his book Living Faith, Jimmy Carter recounts a humbling experience.

He says that when he was preparing to run for governor a second time, he was invited to speak to a Christian men’s group about his activities as a Christian witness. In preparation for that talk, he took account of the witnessing he had done. He added up the times when he had shared the faith with other people, one-on-one, and they had made commitments to Christ. The total number came to 140.

But then, said Carter, “The Lord must have been looking over my shoulder because immediately I remembered my 1966 political campaign when Rosalynn and I had traveled the state and had shaken hands with 300,000 Georgians, extolling my good points, and asking them to vote for me. I had asked 300,000 to support me, but only 140 to affirm Jesus. The terrible difference in those numbers brought me to my knees.”

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

Scripture Lessons Summarized

Fr. Tony’s unabridged edition for this section can be found by clicking on the “COMMENTARY” tab above. Feel free to include more detail if so desired.

The first reading describes how Yahweh called Samuel to His service and how the boy Samuel responded to Him, saying, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” Hence, God blessed him in the mission entrusted to him, and Samuel became an illustrious figure, ranking with Moses and David as a man of God.

In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 40), the psalmist sings, “Behold, I come to do Your will,” indicating that his vocation is to obey, to do what God commands him to do.

In the second reading, St. Paul explains to the Corinthians that their Divine call is a call to holiness. Hence, they need to keep their bodies pure and souls holy, because by Baptism they have become parts of Christ’s Body and the temples of the Holy Spirit.

In the Gospel, John the Baptist claims that his vocation is to introduce Jesus to two of his own disciples as the “Lamb of God,” suggesting Jesus’ vocation to become a sacrificial lamb to atone for our sins. The disciples followed Jesus to his residence, accepting his invitation to “come and see.”  They stayed with him that day. Then Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus, presenting him to Jesus as the Messiah.  Thus, today’s Gospel also describes the call or vocation of the first apostles and challenges us to invite others to Christ by our Christian witnessing.

Life Message

Fr. Tony’s unabridged versions can be found by clicking on the “LIFE MESSAGES” tab above. Feel free to include more detail if so desired.

1) Our Christian vocation is to live and die like the Lamb of God

(A) We live like the Lamb of God:

  1. by leading pure, innocent, humble, selfless lives, obeying Christ’s commandment of love;
  2. by appreciating the loving providence and protecting care of the Good Shepherd for his Church;
  3. by partaking of the Body and Blood of the Good Shepherd in the Holy Eucharist and deriving spiritual strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the Sacraments.

(B) We are called to die like the Lamb of God:

  1. by sharing sacrificially our blessings of health, wealth, and talents with others in the family, parish, and community;
  2. by bearing witness to Christ in our illness, pain, and suffering through our graceful acceptance of all of it;
  3. by offering our sufferings for God’s glory, as penance for our sins, and for the conversion of sinners.

2) Our call is to bear witness to the Lamb of God Doing this requires a personal experience of Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We get this personal experience of Jesus in our daily lives through the meditative reading and study of the Bible, through personal and family prayers, and through our active participation in the Eucharistic celebration. Once we have experienced the personal presence of Jesus in our daily lives, we will start sharing with others the Good News of love, peace, justice, tolerance, mercy, and forgiveness preached and lived by Jesus.

Excellence is not an act, but a habit (4:44)

Fr. Tony’s Illustrations

2B Ordinary Time

More of Fr. Tony’s illustrations

Evangelization – Andrew style

Shaquille O’Neal played in the NBA for the Los Angeles Lakers. He loved coming up with nicknames for himself. When he received his first Most Valuable Player award, Shaq gave himself a new nickname. He said, “From this day on I want to be known as ‘The Big Apostle’ because Aristotle once said that excellence is not a singular act; it is a habit – you are what you repeatedly do.” Shaq was right… and Aristotle was right. Excellence is not one single act. It is found in what we repeatedly do well… and here is where we see the excellence of Andrew. He repeatedly introduced people to Jesus. He repeatedly brought people into the presence of Jesus. He repeatedly included people in the circle of his love and Christ’s love. This was the greatness of Andrew. Today’s Gospel challenges us to bring our friends to Christ.

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

Evangelization – St. Francis of Assisi style

One day, Francis of Assisi invited one of the young friars to join him on a trip into town to preach. The young friar was so honored at receiving such an invitation from St. Francis that he quickly accepted.

They paused beneath a tree and Francis stooped to return a young bird to its nest. They went on and stopped in a field crowded with reapers and Francis bent his back to help load the hay onto a cart. From there they went to the town square where Francis lifted a bucket of water from the well for an old woman and carried it home for her.

All day long he and St. Francis walked through the streets and byways, alleys and, suburbs, and they rubbed shoulders with hundreds of people. Each time they stopped, the young friar was sure that St. Francis would stop and preach. But no words of great truth or wise discourse issued from the saint’s mouth. Finally, they went into the Church, but Francis only knelt silently to pray.

At the end of the day, the two headed back home. Not once had St. Francis addressed a crowd, nor had he talked to anyone about the Gospel. The young monk was greatly disappointed, and he said to St. Francis, “I thought we were going into town to preach?” St. Francis responded, “My son, we have preached. We were preaching while we were walking and in everything we did. We were seen by many and our behavior was closely watched. It’s of no use to walk anywhere to preach unless we preach everywhere as we walk! Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words only if necessary.”

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

Moment of affirmation

When the American writer, Maya Angelou, was growing up, she didn’t see her mother very much. She was brought up in large part by her grandmother, a wonderful and saintly woman. She tells how when she was twenty years old, she took a trip to San Francisco to visit her mother. It was a particularly important yet vulnerable moment in Maya’s life; she was struggling to make her way in life and groping her way towards becoming a writer. She had quite a good meeting with her mother.

When it was time to leave, her mother walked her down the hill to the waiting bus. As they parted, her mother said, “You know, I think you are the greatest woman I have ever met.”

Years later Maya could still recall that moment vividly. She said, “Waiting for the bus, I sat there thinking, ‘Just suppose she’s right. Suppose I really am somebody.’ It was one of those moments when the sky rolled back. At times like that, it’s almost as if the whole earth holds its breath.”

Maya went on to become a highly successful and respected writer and poet. She composed and delivered an inspiring poem at the inauguration of President Clinton.

Today’s Gospel tells us how Jesus heard the voice of His heavenly Father, immediately after His baptism, affirming him as “My beloved Son” (Mark Link in Sunday Homilies).

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

The be-all and end-all of a dog’s life

In the book, No Bad Dogs, British dog trainer Barbara Woodhouse says dogs understand love better than we do. She writes,

“In a dog’s mind, a master or a mistress to love, honor, and obey is an absolute necessity. Love is dormant in the dog until brought into full bloom by an understanding owner. Thousands of dogs appear to love their owners, they welcome them home with enthusiastic wagging of the tail and jumping up, they follow them about their houses happily and, to the normal person seeing the dog, the affection is true and deep. But to the experienced dog trainer this outward show is not enough. The true test of love takes place when the dog has got the opportunity to go out on its own as soon as the door is left open by mistake, and it goes off and often doesn’t return home for hours. That shows that the dog loves only its home comforts and the attention it gets from its family; it doesn’t truly love the master or mistress as they fondly think. True love in dogs is apparent when a door is left open and the dog still stays happily within earshot of its owner. For the owner must be the be-all and end-all of a dog’s life.”

The real meaning of our Divine call and the test of our walk of Faith is not to be seen in our work or activity, or even in our theological purity. It is found in our desire to remain with God. This is the essence of our call to Christian discipleship as shown by Andrew and the other disciples described in today’s Gospel. It means that when we have an opportunity to wander away, to disobey, to leave His presence, we choose instead to stay close to Him, to abide in Christ, and to obey Him.

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

We are here to help each other. That’s what it’s all about.

“We are here to help each other. That’s what it’s all about.” Some years ago, a fifth grade school teacher named Diane Williams had a dramatic experience while sky-diving. Skydiving was one of her hobbies. One Saturday morning, she met her sky-diving group for a jump, but this day was different from all the rest. Apparently, Diane was trying to join three other divers in a hand-holding formation when she accidentally slammed into the backpack of another skydiver and she was knocked unconscious. This caused her to hurtle head over heels like a rag doll toward the ground at a speed of 150 miles per hour. Fellow skydiver, Gregory Robertson, saw that Diane was in big trouble. Immediately, he straightened himself into a vertical dart, arms pinned to his body, ankles crossed, head aimed at the ground in what parachutists call a no list dive. In effect, he became a human dive bomber plummeting toward the earth and Diane at 200 miles per hour. At 3500 feet, about ten seconds from impact, Gregory caught up with Diane. He managed to pull the rip cord on her emergency chute, as well as his own… and they both floated safely to the ground. Greg’s heroic efforts saved Diane’s life. When asked later about his incredible feat, he said simply, “We are here to help each other. That’s what it’s all about.” He paused for a moment, and then he said, “Someone tried to die in my drop-zone this morning. No one dies in my drop-zone!” I suppose at that moment somewhere in Heaven God was smiling… because nothing pleases God more than to see us helping and serving one another, our sisters and brothers, in unselfish, sacrificial, self-giving ways. Andrew found the Christ… and immediately ran to get his brother. This is a beautiful mountain-peak moment in the Bible. He brought his brother into the presence of Christ. Andrew’s simple, thoughtful act of sharing with his brother is a poignant reminder to us that we in the world are not isolated individuals just existing alongside each other, selfishly hoarding whatever we can accumulate. No, we are family… and life is better when we act like a family… loving each other, supporting each other, helping each other, respecting each other, treasuring each other… and, like Andrew, bringing each other into the presence of Christ and the circle of Christ’s love.

Fr. Tony (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

Fr. Tony’s Life Messages

2B Ordinary Time

Live and die like the Lamb of God

(A) We live like a lamb: 1) by leading pure, innocent, humble, selfless lives, obeying Christ’s commandment of love; 2) by appreciating the loving providence and protecting care of the Good Shepherd in his Church; 3) by partaking of the Body and Blood of the Good Shepherd in the Holy Eucharist and by deriving spiritual strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the Sacraments. (B) We die like a sacrificial lamb: 1) by sharing our blessings of health, wealth and talents with others in the family, parish and community; 2) by bearing witness to Christ in our illness, pain and suffering; 3) by offering our suffering for the salvation of souls and as reparation for our sins and those of others.

(Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

Rebuild broken lives

Like the missionary call of Samuel and the apostles, we too are called.  Our call is to rebuild broken lives, reconciling our brothers and sisters to God’s love and justice through Christ Jesus, our Lamb and Lord: A. Through Baptism into the Body of Christ, we are empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit to free the oppressed. B. Through the love of the Lamb of God, we are called to better the lot and improve the broken spirit of anyone who has been exiled from the possibility of hope, exiled from God’s righteousness, or burdened by the yoke of spiritual, social, economic and/or political dislocation. C. In other words, through the life, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the glorified Lamb, we are called to be His conduit, carrying an empowering sense of identity and of purpose to each human spirit we encounter.

(Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

Bear witness to the Lamb of God

Today’s Gospel reminds us that being a disciple of Jesus means that we are to grow in Faith and become witnesses for him. A. Bearing witness to Christ is an active rather than a passive enterprise. Knowing Jesus is a matter of experience. One could know the Catechism of the Catholic Church, all 700 pages of it, by heart, and still not know Jesus. B. Bearing witness to Christ, then, demands that we should have personal and first-hand experience of Jesus.  1. We get this personal experience of Jesus in our daily lives – through the meditative reading and study of the Bible, through personal and family prayers, and through the Sacraments, especially by participation in the Eucharistic celebration. 2. Once we have experienced the personal presence of Jesus in our daily lives, we will start sharing with others the Good News of the love, peace, justice, tolerance, mercy, and forgiveness that Jesus preached. C. The essence of our witness-bearing is to state what we have seen, heard, experienced, and now believe, and then to invite others to “come and see.”  Other people will see Jesus in our lives when we love, forgive, and spend time doing good for all we meet. D. A dynamic and living experience of Jesus will also enable us to invite and encourage people to come and participate in our Church activities.

(Fr. Tony) (http://frtonyshomilies.com/)

Fr. Tony’s Commentary

2B Ordinary Time

Today’s theme is Divine vocation. Everyone is called by God to be someone and to do something for others with his life and with his unique gifts. Hence, today’s readings remind us of our personal and corporate call to become witnesses for the Lamb of God and to lead lives of holiness and purity. We are told that each of us, as a Christian, is personally called to discipleship, which demands an ongoing response of commitment. The first reading describes how Yahweh called Samuel to His service. The boy Samuel responded to God promptly, as instructed by his master and mentor, Eli, saying, “Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening.” Hence, God blessed him in the mission entrusted to him, and Samuel became an illustrious figure, ranking with Moses and David as a man of God. In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 40), the psalmist sings, “Behold, I come to do Your will,” voicing his recognition that his vocation has called him to obey God’s command, that is, to do His will. In the second reading, we listen to St. Paul speaking to us, too, as he reminds the Corinthians that they have a Divine call, a call to holiness. He argues that Christians need to keep their bodies pure and their souls holy because in Baptism they have become parts of Christ’s Body and the temples of the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel, John the Baptist presents two of his disciples, Andrew and John, to Jesus as the, “Lamb of God.” They follow Jesus to His residence, accept his call to “come and see,“ go with Him and stay with Him the rest of that day. Then Andrew brings his brotherSimon, back, to present him to Jesus, the Messiah.  Thus, today’s Gospel describes the call of the first apostles.

The first reading, 1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19 explained: The book of Samuel begins with a long narrative of what we might call ancient Israel’s middle history. Moses, Aaron, and Joshua were gone from the scene. The period of rule by Judges had begun (at about 1000 BC). The first chapter describes how Samuel was born to a long-barren couple by Divine intervention. They dedicated him in his early childhood to God’s service in the Temple at Shiloh, as an apprentice to the priest Eli. The boy’s duties included attendance during the night near “the Ark of God,” a most sacred cult object and a place of unique Divine presence among the people. God called Samuel one night, and Samuel thought it was his master Eli. Twice God called, twice Samuel went to Eli, and twice Eli told him to go back to sleep. The third time God called, and Samuel went to Eli, the old priest realized what was going on and told Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if He calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.’”(1 Sm 3:9; RSV 2 Catholic). The threefold repetition of God’s call indicates genuine experience rather than hallucination. Eli knew the proper response for all God’s followers: “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.” Only those willing to carry out the Lord’s wishes will be able to hear God calling — even in the middle of a silent night. Though Eli had served God faithfully, it was Samuel whom God called. Samuel became an illustrious figure, ranking with Moses and David as a man of God. The lesson for us is that God often calls ordinary people, including the young, to serve within the community. Consequently, we all need guidance in discerning and responding to His will. Our lives as God’s followers revolve around our seeking, finding and responding to God’s calls. Listening to the call of God is to hear, understand, and accept it in word and action. Is God calling me today for a special mission? What is He saying to me? Am I really listening?

The second reading, 1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20 explained: The letter is addressed to all members of the Church at Corinth. Corinth was a bawdy seaport in cosmopolitan Greece and the center of intellectual ferment. The vices of every seaport, plus the philosophical ferment of ancient Greece, were all part of these peoples’ lives, and gave rise, in part, to the need for this letter. One of the greatest besetting sins of the pagan port-town of Corinth was prostitution. A few Christians even tried to justify prostitution as part of the Christian liberty which Paul had preached to them. Corinth was a difficult place to preach a new doctrine and a new morality, but Paul had dared to preach both, provoking intense controversy. The pagan Corinthians believed that the soul of man was the important part and the body a mere piece of matter. They looked on the body as a matter of instincts to be fulfilled, including the sex instinct. Therefore, they argued, one ought to let the desires of the body have their way. Some of the Christian Corinthians had apparently picked up these pagan ideas. So Paul reminded them that they were “sanctified and called to be holy” like all who call on the name of Jesus. Just as God called Samuel and Jesus called his apostles, the Corinthian Christians were called to lead a life of holiness. Paul’s argument runs like this: since God’s Spirit dwells in us, we have become temples of God and consequently our bodies are sacred. In addition, Christ gave his life in order that man might be redeemed, body and soul. Hence, a man’s body is not his own to do with as he likes; it is Christ’s, and a man must use it, not for the satisfaction of his lusts, but for the glory of Christ.

Gospel exegesis: John the Baptizer’s selfless witnessing: John’s Gospel presents John the Baptist as a self-effacing figure whose role is preeminently one of witnessing. Instead of building up his own following, John selflessly directed his disciples to Jesus. John the Baptist gave testimony to Jesus by pointing Him out as the Lamb of God (vv 29, 36); Andrew called him the Messiah (v 41), and Nathaniel called Jesus Rabbi, Son of God, and King of Israel (v 49). Jesus completed the epiphany, declaring Himself the Son of Man (v 51). In the Synoptic gospels, Jesus called the disciples away from their fishing boats to follow him (Mt 4:18-22, et al.). But in the Fourth Gospel, they went to Him at John’s direction rather than in response to Jesus’ call. Instead of leaving their boats, they left John. On the second day of Jesus’ public ministry, John the Baptist introduced Jesus to the Jews as the “Lamb of God.” (Jn 1:29). On the third day, he pointed out Jesus, the Lamb of God, to two of his own disciples, Andrew and John, as described in today’s Gospel.

The Lamb of God: This is the most meaningful title given to Jesus in the Bible. It is used 29 times in the book of Revelation. It sums up the love, the sacrifice, and the triumph of Christ. John’s introduction might have brought five pictures of the “lamb” to the minds of his Jewish listeners. 1) The Lamb of Atonement (Lv 16:20-22). A lamb was brought to the Temple on the Day of Atonement (“Yom Kippur”). Placing his hands over its head, the high priest transferred all the sins of his people to the lamb. It was then sent into the wilderness (as the lamb who takes away the sins of the Jews) to be killed by some wild animal. 2) The Lamb of Daily Atonement (Ex 29:38-42; Nm 28:1-8). This was the lamb sacrificed on the “Black Altar” of the Temple every morning and evening to atone for the sins of the Jews. 3) The Paschal Lamb (Ex 12:11ss.). The Paschal Lamb’s blood saved the firstborn of the Jewish families in Egypt from the “Angel of destruction.” The event was memorialized yearly in the sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb at Passover. 4) The Lamb of the Prophets, an image portraying One Who, by dying a sacrificial death, would redeem God’s people: “The gentle lamb led to the slaughterhouse” (Jer 11:19), “like a lamb to the slaughter” (Is 53:7). Both, as we know, refer to the sufferings and sacrificial death of Christ. 5) The Lamb of the Conquerors. The picture of a horned lamb on the Jewish flag at the time of the Maccabaean Liberation War was used as a sign of conquering majesty and power. The great Jewish conquerors like Samuel, David and Solomon were described by the ancient Jewish historians as “horned lambs.”

Addressing Christ as Lamb of God has become familiar to us in the Eucharist, when, at “the breaking of the bread,” we proclaim our traditional “fractional anthem” three times in word or song what the Baptist said: Agnus Dei – “Lamb of God, Who take away the sin of the world, … have mercy on us (twice)/ …grant us peace (once).” In this prayer, we give expression to our deepest understanding of the identity and purpose of Jesus Christ in coming to earth as the Messiah of God. He has come to be both our Lamb and our Lord. Because Jesus lived out his life on earth as one of humility, obedience to His Father, love, and sacrifice, we believe and affirm that Jesus is the One Who came and continues to come into a broken world to take our sins upon himself in the Holy Mass.

Stages in God’s call: In the opening verses of today’s Gospel, John points out to his disciples that the One who is passing by is the “Lamb of God.” Two of John’s disciples follow Jesus Who turns and asks them what they are seeking. Somewhat confused, they ask Jesus where he is staying. Jesus does not tell them. Instead, he invites them to “come and see.” “Each one of us is called personally by God to “stay with” Jesus, to follow His way, and to continue His mission of spreading the Good News (in a manner appropriate to our vocation in life)” (CCC #871). For each of us, belief in Jesus develops in stages, which John appears to be describing. First, we respond to testimony given by others. Then, having “seen” where Jesus dwells – within believers — as individuals and as community — we move to a commitment which is based on our own experience of the risen Lord. Finally, our conversion is completed when we become witnesses for Jesus. In Andrew’s case, his conversion reveals his belief in Jesus as the Messiah. He then brings his brother Peter to Christ. Jesus looks at Simon and says, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called ‘Cephas’ or ‘Peter.’” Cephas is the Aramaic word for “rock” while the Greek word for rock is “Petros.” This kind of name-change has precedents in the Old Testament (Gn 17:5, 32:28). Such name-changes indicate the beginning of a new life—a new purpose—a new relationship with God. Simon’s new life in Christ is symbolized by his new name, “Peter,” conferred by the Master. The evangelist sets out a challenging pattern for evangelization. The first people to be evangelized preached Jesus in their turn to relatives, friends, and even to strangers. We, too, must find and grow in Faith through our grace-assisted lifelong seeking of God’s will, as we come to God through Jesus, Whom we find in the local Christian community, as well as in the Church, the Sacraments –particularly the Eucharist — and the Scriptures.

Permission granted for the use of the materials on this page for education and homiletical purposes at no charge. If used in writing, please make acknowledgment of the author, Fr. Anthony Kadavil.. For more information, contact Fr. Tony by clicking here.