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3-Point Mass prep: Why a lamb?

Sacrificial lamb

Amata J.N. | Amata J.N. / Sr. Amata CSFN

Fr. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik - published on 01/14/23

John's description has two novel ideas

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The Gospel for this Sunday is John 1:29-34

1.  Introduction

John introduces Jesus to the crowds gathered along the Jordan River. However, he does not use Jesus’ name, but calls Him a Lamb. Why is that? 

2.  Key words

Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world

The phrase “the Lamb of God” is paradoxical. We see the contrast between a small, helpless lamb and the great, omnipotent God, as well as between holy God, an innocent lamb and the sin of the world. 

John the Baptist Warsaw Cathedral

The lamb in Israel was a sacrificial animal, killed in substitution for sins. But no lamb could ever take away and remove all the sin of the world. John the Baptist refers to the sacrifices offered in the Jewish tradition, but he is not talking about ordinary sacrificial lambs. He shows the people a singular, unique lamb, the Lamb of God, one given by God. As “the Lamb of God,” Jesus overcomes sin through the sacrifice of his life.  

John does not say that Jesus has come to take away the sin of the Jews, but of the world. This was also new to his audience. It means that the Messiah has come to save all people. The word “world” includes not only the Chosen People, the Jews, but also the Gentiles. 

John the Baptist

3.  Today

We hear these very words: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” during each Holy Mass. They remind us that Jesus is the one and only Lamb who can remove my sin and the entire sin of the world. This does not happen automatically. It is an invitation to come to Jesus and trust Him, to accept the gift of taking away one’s sin and of a new life in holy sacraments. 

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