Must have taken a lot to impress a man like John the Baptist. The Bible gives us an image of a non-conformist—a radical—a wild man. He was in the desert shouting repentance to any who were willing to listen.
In the middle of the multitude waiting to be baptized came One who did not need to be baptized. John knew. He recognized Him from far away. “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world…” No more lambs needed to be sacrificed to keep God happy. The Old Covenant had come to an end—something new was about to start. The God to whom we sacrificed became the sacrifice. Jesus became the Lamb on the altar of the cross so that we could be redeemed. Yet, consider how many people are still stuck in the Old Testament theology—in the Old Covenant. Large numbers of Christians still think that they have to sacrifice to God in order for God to like them. They keep remembering their past sins and refuse to believe that they have been forgiven in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Events from 40, 30, 20 years ago can cause sleepless nights. Physical sickness can result when we are unwilling to let go of the past. Much happens because of fear—fear that God is somehow going to punish us for our offenses. If God ever decided to punish us for our sins, who could survive? Who could make it to heaven? Jesus could have started with the ones who crucified Him. In stead He forgave them, prayed for them, interceded for them. Blessed thief who was inspired to say, “Remember me when you come into Your Kingdom.” Jesus forgave him and said, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” Most precious words any of us could ever hope to hear, especially at the moment of death.
So in essence John gave us a preview of our redemption. He didn’t know the details; but he knew that Jesus was the One. John was inspired by God as he witnessed the Holy Spirit come down from heaven. We might be tempted to think, “Well, sure—he had Jesus right in front of him and the Holy Spirit to confirm that Jesus is the Son of God.” None of us have ever had a similar experience. Haven’t we had a similar experience? Isn’t Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament? Not only is the Lord present in the Sacraments but also in the people all around us. At times we are blinded by our worries, our prejudices, our issues of control—that we fail to see Him.
Chances are that we are not going to hear the voice of God from heaven. But we will hear the cry of the poor. And there are plenty of poor people in our area. We will see the restlessness of children who are bombarded with the illusion of the internet, pornography, false gods. Don’t forget the violence. Violence dominates the scene in families who have problems communicating with each other. The temptation is to raise the voice, make threats, or hit each other. How can we hope for peace in the world when we do not have peace in our homes? How can there be peace in the world when there is violence even in the womb? Defenseless unborn children are not given a chance to live. Yes, Jesus is all around, especially where we would rather not look. The Lamb of God continues to offer Himself as the Sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins—sins too many to count. When will we ever learn? When will the madness stop? The answer is inside each of us. The New Year brings new hope. Certainly God gives us everything that we need to accomplish His will—to be instruments of the Gospel. Jesus spoke the truth but He never hit back. He is our teacher, our example of service.
Our service starts at home, with our family. Simple, ordinary acts of kindness are the sign that we belong to the Lamb of God.