Jan. 15, 2017: 2nd Sunday Ordinary Time A
Click to hear Audio Homily
Some of you may have been given an award or certificate in the past. Were you ever asked to give a speech when receiving your award? Whom did you thank or give credit in your speech? An NBA basketball player in recent years gave a speech after receiving the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award. He said, “First and foremost I have to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for blessing me with the talents to play this game, with the family to support me, day in, day out. I’m His humble servant right now and I can’t say enough how important my faith is to who I am and how I play the game.” In a magazine column, the same NBA star wrote, “I know that in the grand scheme of things, this is just a game that can be taken from me at any moment. But I love that basketball gives me the opportunities to do good things for people and to point them towards the Man who died for our sins on the cross. I know I have a place in heaven waiting for me because of Him, and that’s something no earthly prize or trophy could ever top.” This 28-year old young man knew Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Are we also convinced of who Jesus is for us, and do we give credit to Him where it’s due?
John the Baptist knew Jesus as his cousin. He knew Mary, mother of Jesus, as well, but he wasn’t sure that his cousin was THE MESSIAH. Something had happened when John baptized his cousin Jesus which had convinced John beyond all doubt that Jesus was the Son of God. John said, "I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven 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."
John’s father, Zechariah, was a priest of the Jerusalem Temple, so John would have known all the ritual of the Temple and its sacrifices. Every morning and every evening, a lamb was sacrificed in the Temple for the sins of the people. So long as the Temple stood, this daily sacrifice was made. In the gospel today, John proclaims of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God.” In essence John is saying, 'In the Temple, a lamb is offered every night and every morning for the sins of the people; but in this Jesus is the only sacrifice that can deliver men and women from sin.'
At every mass we hear the similar words of John the Baptist, “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” And we reply, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” With these humble words of ours, as we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, we proclaim that we are welcoming into our souls Jesus whose love, sacrifice, suffering, and resurrection heals us and saves us.
Because of who Jesus is for us and what he has done for us, our life on earth has an entirely different meaning for us than those who do not yet know Jesus. We know why we are here, we know why we must expect and accept trials and troubles, because we know where we are going, and understand that life’s tribulations, as well as its joys and consolations, are the road which leads us to the true life. The basketball star I spoke about in the beginning said to the reporters, “People should know who I represent and why I am who I am.” He was humble enough to realize who he is before God and what his mission is on this earth--to be a servant whose way of life points to Christ. He uses the stage of basketball court to simply say, “Look at Christ and what he has done for me.”
What can we do concretely in our daily lives to point others to Christ? Let us thank and bless God, for having given us the light of faith and the opportunity to witness with our lives that Jesus is Our Lord and Savior.