2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time A

Have you ever thought of Jesus as a superhero?   I think he checks off many of the boxes.  Does he have other worldly origins? Check.  Does he have an intriguing birth story? Check.  Does he emerge suddenly in early adulthood with mysterious powers?  Check.  Do crowds marvel that he has done things no one has ever seen before?  Check.  Indeed, Jesus does seem to pass the test.  He has that wow factor; a charismatic figure some people fawn over, some dispute and enemies despise.  (This is likely true because superheroes are Christ figures and not the other way around.)

He also shares the most important trait – he has a mission.  Every hero has a mission and Jesus’ is spelled out by John the Baptist.  Jesus “takes away the sin of the world.”  Look carefully; he takes away implies that someone already has control of sin and Jesus wrests it away, a power move by a powerful man.  And from whom does he take it?  The baptismal rite lets us know.  “Almighty and ever-living God, you sent your only Son into the world to cast out the power of Satan, spirit of evil, to rescue man from the kingdom of darkness, and bring him into the splendor of your kingdom of light.” Jesus defeats the ultimate villain in Satan; his is a rescue mission for all of humanity.  This is what it means to be saved. That is a superhero.

And what cool nickname do we give this superhero?  What is the equivalent of “The Man of Steel” or “The Dark Knight?”  How about “The Devil’s Terror,” “The Hammer of God” or as someone suggested “Captain Israel?’  What is the nickname we give to the one who “takes away the sin of the world?”  The Lamb of God. That’s it.  Not even a fully grown sheep.  How is that to be intimidating?  What can a lamb of God do?  Fluff enemies into submission?

Perhaps a little background can help.  The Lamb of God recalls the suffering servant mentioned by Isaiah who is led to the slaughter and the paschal lamb whose sacrificed blood protected the Israelites on the first Passover.  Or it might merely point to the docile and innocent nature of the animal. As Mary’s little went everywhere that Mary went, the Lamb of God surely would go wherever God led him.

The Lamb of God takes away the sins of the world not by his miracles as impressive as they might be nor by his gracious and true words as meaningful as they might be.  The Lamb of God takes away the sins of the world by love and sacrifice.  Though more powerful than anyone else, he would allow himself to be powerless. Though wiser than anyone else, he would never manipulate, only invite.  And though he held that glory of God, within him, he lived so that it might be shared.  This lamb would be wounded for the wounded, suffer for the suffering and befriend the friendless.

And maybe that is the brilliance of the nickname.  We cannot do the marvelous feats of Jesus any more than we call leap tall buildings or outrun a speeding bullet.  But we can be lambs of God for the Holy Spirit descended upon us as well.  We can replicate the gentle mastery of Jesus Christ.  Within us is the capability to stay with those who are hurting, to hear the cries of the oppressed as did Martin Luther King, Jr. and to pour ourselves out in love.   We can be like Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.  Maybe that is our superpower.