1 John 2:29–3:6
Ps 98:1, 3cd-6
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.
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.”
Good News Reflection:
In every Mass, we hear the presiding priest say the words of John the Baptist that are quoted in today’s Gospel passage: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” Behold what? A wafer of bread? The priest isn’t showing us something that’s visible to our eyes. “Behold” means, “Look with the vision of faith and see Jesus! He is here! Accept him! Worship him! Receive him!”
To which we reply with the humility of the centurion in Luke 7:6: “Lord, I am not worthy that You should enter under my roof, but only say the Word and my soul shall be healed.”
With this healing, we are set free from our sins, thanks to the Penitential Rite at the beginning of Mass if we were truly repentant. With this healing, we receive Jesus in all of his humanity and his divinity. With this healing, we can leave church reformed and renewed into the likeness of Jesus. We become tabernacles of his True Presence.
Is Mass that kind of experience for you? It requires full attention for what’s going on in the Mass — in all parts of the Mass.
Jesus is present in the community song that initiates the Mass.
Jesus is present in the Penitential Rite, listening for sincerity and genuine awareness of our need to repent from sin.
Jesus is present in the Liturgy of the Word: the Word read and the Word preached, the Word broken open like bread to nourish our spiritual growth (and when the homily is poor or absent, the Holy Spirit preaches to us privately; straying thoughts are often an action of God). Jesus is also present in all the prayers of Mass.
Like John the Baptist, we can say: “I did not know him” (v. 31). In other words: “I saw only bread and wine, but the Holy Spirit revealed to me the presence of my beloved Savior” or “I was sinful and didn’t realize the damage I had done, but the Holy Spirit gently exposed my sins and gave me help in overcoming them” or “I was wounded and did not know how to be healed, but the Holy Spirit led me to the right resources, the right counselor, the right doctor.”
Today’s first reading says that we are God’s children now; however, what we shall be after we die in Christ has not yet been revealed. We won’t know it or understand it or experience it until we die, and then “we shall be like him.” We’re only partially like him now, because we only partially understand him. After death, “we shall see him as he is” fully, and then we will want to be like him fully; in whatever ways we are not like him we will gladly purge from us (which is the process called purgatory).
During the Liturgy of the Eucharist, when the bread stops being bread and becomes the Body of Jesus, and the wine becomes his Blood, time disappears and we’re united to our Lord who lives in eternity. Through the Eucharist, we experience a taste of heaven. We become like Jesus, and we remain like him after Mass in the ways that we imitate him.
My Lord: Give me the grace of recognizing Your Real Presence in the Eucharist. Forgive me for living enclosed in my worries without going to You, the living Bread from Heaven. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica