posted on January 14, 2015 11:45
“Behold, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36). This catchy phrase from John the Baptist in the gospel this week encapsulates our Eucharistic belief in Jesus, who is the “Lamb who was slain” for our sins (Revelation 5:6).
The original lamb was sacrificed during the time of Moses (1393-1273 B.C.), and its blood marked the doorposts of the Israelites and saved them from the last plague, the angel of death passing over the city and killing every firstborn child and animal (Exodus 12). The body of the lamb was eaten as a sacrificial rite. The blood of the lamb saved the people from death.
The gospel of John the Evangelist—the Beloved Disciple—which we heard today is a Passover message. At the beginning of the gospel, Jesus is presented as the new Passover lamb, taking the place of the traditional lamb during the celebration of the Passover meal and instead offering his body as food and his blood to save us from death. “I am the living bread come down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world … unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you … my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (John 6:51, 53, 55).
St. Paul tells his friends in Corinth, “the Lord Jesus … took bread, and after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you.’ … In the same way also the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me’” (1 Cor 11:23-26). Our Eucharistic meal at Holy Mass is our sharing in the Lamb’s sacrifice.
Every time we “Behold, the Lamb of God” at Mass, and receive him in Holy Communion, we acknowledge what John the Baptist and St. Paul believed: Jesus is here to save me.
~Fr. Aaron Kuhn