Second Sunday in Ordinary Time A

John the Baptist knew it, but he didn’t know it.  He knew he had been called to this mission of baptizing. He knew it had meaning and importance. He knew that God was attracting people to him. He knew he was preparing for the Messiah, whoever that was.  I mean he was baptizing as if it were his last name.  Yet, everything must have looked different the moment he encountered Jesus. He cries out, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” and immediately acknowledges that Jesus ranks ahead of him.  He rejoices to tell of how the Holy Spirit alighted in the form of the dove upon Jesus and it had answered the promise that God had given him, “On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.”  This is the Son of God and it fulfilled all John had promised and all John had dreamed.

Imagine the greater meaning that meeting with Jesus and the confirmation that he was the Son of God gave to John.  Once he truly knew for whom he had come, he must have seen his whole ministry in a new light.  Connected to Jesus, knowing the Christ, knowing precisely who he was revealing must have given him immense joy and maybe even relief.  I am sure that for all the good he had done in his ministry to that time, nothing matched that moment; nothing gave greater impetus to his ministry and nothing assured his vocation like knowing Christ.  Not a moment of his life would be the same. Nor would he want it to be.  That is how it is when you are loved.   You know like you know.  That is how it is when you meet Jesus Christ.

I was a campus minister for eight years before coming here.  And if there was one scene that repeated itself the most would be someone, almost always a girl, would come in to see me.  She would be crying and saying through her tears, “My boyfriend is horrible to me.   He’s mean to me, cheats on me, says bad things about me and never lets me see my friends.”  I, with years of pastoral practice behind me and a great many years of education, would summon all my resources to make a dramatic and bold suggestion, “Er…why don’t you break up with him?”  To which I invariably heard back, “But I love him!”

I would say, no, you don’t.  And when those same people came back to me truly in love they would say how different it felt, how happy they were.   The way of love deepens all your relationships.  It makes your world wider, not narrower.  It makes you a better friend; it makes you selfless, not selfish.  When we are loved, we truly know not only the other person, we know ourselves.

Love is a transformative property.  It changes what we see and what we hear.  All things are carried it out through the perspective of love.  We know who we are, what we are doing and why we are doing it.  That is why we stick with jobs that are tough, because I need to support my family.  That is why we listen to our friends for as long as they need, because we know they love us and will do the same when we need it.  That is why we sacrifice and seek justice, for we know that all should share in this divine blessing.

And we have been loved beyond all telling.  We have encountered the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  We have been loved, sacrificed for, witnessed to and given new life.  We have been chosen and held precious by God. We know like we know.

A Christian should live in a distinct manner.  Our love could not get wider because it comes from God. There should be nobody excluded from our concern and prayer because our Father has made us brothers and sisters. In the midst of the love of Christ, strangers become neighbors, outsiders are invited in and the poor are our cherished companions. 

In a few minutes, we will be told that we are loved again in the story of the Eucharist.  We will know like we know as we hear of Christ’s outpouring of his life for ours.  We will hear John the Baptist’s cry again, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”   Let us be different for the experience of receiving his body and blood.  What we do and how we do it should be different.  St. Eizabeth Ann Seton proposed to do God’s will, do it in the manner God wills and do it because it is God’s will. 

As those beloved of Jesus Christ, we should seek a greater justice then and imagine a new peace.  We should find and pursue our vocation and the vocation within the vocation, to do how God wants us to do it.  We should treasure each other more brightly and hold on to each other more tightly because we see the divinity in the every person and Jesus incarnate in creation.  Let our love change the world. Let us love because we know like we know.

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