Home Homilies Michael Whelan SM, PhD Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (19 January 2014)

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (19 January 2014)

The next day John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:29-34 –NRSV)

See also Matthew 3:13–17; Mark 1:9–11; Luke 3:21–22.

Introductory notes

Who wrote John’s Gospel? The eminent Johannine scholar, Fr probably five stages. Brown suggests that more than one person was involved and that the text we now have probably dates from about the last decade of the first century.

This could account for the very dense and profound theological nature of the work. John is sometimes referred to as the “first theologian”.

We have a good example of this in today’s text with the expression: “Here is the lamb of God”. This may be a reference to the victorious apocalyptic lamb who would destroy evil in the world (Revelation 5-7; 17:14). It
could also be a reference to the paschal lamb, whose blood saved Israel (Exodus 12) and/or the suffering servant led like a lamb to the slaughter as a sin-offering (Isaiah 53:7, 10).

Our text

…. John the Baptist saw Jesus …. I myself have seen ….

In the “seeing” there is both recognition and belief. John the Baptist has never “met” Jesus yet he immediately knows who he is. This is a transforming moment.

Apart from John the Baptist, who else “saw” Jesus? Why might one person “see” and another “not see”?

In a delightful novel about a New York Italian family, Jane Smiley has one of the characters muse: “Maybe the burning bush was burning all the time and Moses didn’t notice. Maybe the miracle is when you stop and pay attention.” Francine Prose. Household Saints (New York: St. Martin’s, 1981, 220)

What if we were to think of Jesus turning up, all over see Matthew 25:31-46.

So the question is not, “Is Jesus here?” but rather “Can we see Him?”