Reflection: the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Monday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church


[1st Reading – Is.49:3, 5-6; Ps.39; 2nd Reading – 1Cor.1:1-3; Gospel – Jn.1:29-34]

Although the time for Jesus to manifest himself (Christmas, Epiphany, Baptism) seems to be over, once again in the readings today, we are presented with the figure of John the Baptist giving evidence of Jesus.  In today’s gospel it is only John who speaks.  He did not know Jesus, but since he saw, he could therefore become, and in fact, he did become, a credible witness that Jesus is the Chosen One of God.

Twice, in today’s gospel, John says that he did not know Jesus.  He got to know Jesus because John recognised him when he saw the Spirit come down from heaven like a dove and rested on Jesus.  John knew what his mission was in relation to Jesus, i.e. to reveal Jesus to Israel. John knew that he also had to be on the lookout of the Spirit to see on whom the Spirit was going to rest and this was the sign for John to recognise Jesus.  So, as soon as the Spirit rested on Jesus, John knew straight away that Jesus was the ‘Chosen One of God’.  John says that he has seen and therefore he is to witness what he has seen.  Furthermore he had to witness not only what he had seen but also what he had understood about Jesus.

As soon as John saw Jesus, John understood that the baptism that he was giving was for the repentance of sins and as such was to come to an end because of the presence of Jesus.  Jesus was the ‘lamb of God’ that takes away the sin of the world.  If, through John the Baptist, the sin could be forgiven through John’s baptism with water, since Jesus was now in the picture, then sins could now be forgiven through Jesus himself.  It was no longer through some repetitive action (e.g. Baptism) but through the presence of Jesus and especially through Jesus’ death and crucifixion.  This helps us to understand why John calls Jesus ‘the lamb of God’.  The lamb was used as a sacrifice to God.  Jesus too would be sacrificed, like the lamb, through which he will take away the sin of the world.

Previously John had said that Jesus would come after him even though Jesus ranked before John because he existed before John.  In these few words, John gives us the whole theology about Jesus.  Chronologically, John came before Jesus.  We know that John was conceived at least six months before Jesus – that is what the angel told Mary at the Annunciation.  Jesus is therefore humanly younger than John, which is why Jesus came ‘after’ John.  In this context Jesus followed John.  Yet, John says that Jesus ranks before John because he existed before John.  We know that Jesus is the Son of God and therefore he was from the beginning of beginnings.  In this context Jesus existed before John.  So, being God, Jesus was before John.  In this context Jesus preceded John.  John, who did not know Jesus, came to recognise Jesus through the Spirit of God who descended and rested on him from heaven like a dove.  Jesus is God and Man at the same time.  John is giving evidence of this and therefore he was ready to share what he experienced with those listening to him about Jesus.

Through our own experiences what can we say? Can we say: ‘I know Jesus!’ or ‘I do not know Jesus?’  If we know Jesus, are we giving evidence of what we have seen … and experienced?  If we do not know him, what are we going to do about it? What are we doing to see his signs and therefore get to know him … and to follow him more closely?

“Lord, John prepared the way for you and he also gave evidence of what you are and who you are. He was told what to do and what to look for in order to recognise you.  You also told us what to do and what to look for in order to recognise you among us, but quite often we do not see or we choose not to see you.  Help us to be more open to your word.   Thank you Lord!”

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo )

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