Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
The principal lesson of today’s readings is that God calls us in the spirit by name, provided that we try to listen to his voice and reflect upon his call in an effort to know him. Today’s Gospel tells us about our Lord’s own call in life. John the Baptist designates him as “the Lamb of God,” (the Messiah). The attractive force of Jesus quickly brings the two disciples of John to a faith that must be quickly shared. One of them, Andrew, rushes off to find his brother, Simon, confessing that he has found the Messiah. To accept God’s call, then, means more than accepting a personal or private commission. Rather, it means accepting a life of solidarity with others and with God. The important thing is that each of us responds to the call. We share the same vocation.
Last Sunday we saw Jesus begin his public ministry with a baptism from John the Baptist and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon him, the public testimomy of the Father to him and his mission. Today the God-man who came for all of us begins to gather disciples. And the way it happened is a manifestation of Jesus as Savior of the world. This time he is pointed out, not by a star, but by the prophet John the Baptist. As Jesus walks by, John says to two of his own disciples, Look! There is the Lamb of God! The Baptist sees in Jesus’ arrival the fulfillment of his purpose in life, and with a truly detached spirit, he wishes the attention of his disciples to now focus on the Lord, not himself: He must increase, I must decrease!
The title Lamb of God is rich in biblical connotation. It recalls the exodus of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. When God sent his angel to kill all the first-born of the Egyptians, the Israelites sprinkled the blood of a sacrificial lamb on their doorposts. The angel, seeing the blood, passed over the homes of the Israelites. They were saved by the blood of the lamb. We too have been saved from the slavery of sin through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. We have no idea of how fully John the Baptist understood the phrase, Lamb of God, but we see the implications of that title.
Today’s Gospel records the call of the first disciples, Andrew and John. The readings also record Jesus’ own vocation. The responsorial Psalm says, Behold I come. In the written scroll it is prescribed for me: To do your will, O my God, it is my delight. That was Jesus’ own call; that was the Father’s will for him. Jesus was called to be the true Lamb of Sacrifice for the sins of the world.
That God calls us in the Spirit by name, provided that we try to listen to his voice and reflect upon his call in an effort to know him, is a main lesson of today’s liturgy. God does call people. The details of the call seem to vary according to the person, the age, and the place. The specific way we respond to that call -as a priest, religious, married or single person- is a matter of personal choice. The important thing is that each of us responds to the call. We share the same vocation. We live it out in different ways. Though our vocation may have been less dramatic, we have been called as definitely as was Samuel (1st reading). God spoke our name through the priest who baptized us. We have been chosen just as surely as were those men who left the Baptist to become apostles of Jesus. And with Andrew we can say, We have found the Messiah.
God calls us to a mision of discipleship. And to be a disciple implies some familiarity with the Lord. God calls us to see as Jesus saw and to follow in the way that Jesus taught. Personal likes and dislikes have to be sacrificed so that what God wants can be given top priority. This is the way of discipleship.
And the effect of our Christian call is astonishing. We have become part of him, part of his mystical body. For Jesus lives today -in heaven, in the eucharist, and in us! Because Jesus really lives in his followers, what is done to them is done to Jesus. But the converse is equally true. Jesus wants to act in and through us. We take him with us wherever we go, for good or bad. The Baptist pointed Jesus out to the first disciples. But Jesus wants us to do more; he wants us to be able to point to ourselves and say, Here is Jesus living and acting within me.