This week, the readings for Sunday returns to Isaiah’s Servant passages and to John the Baptist. The readings from this time of year focus on the revealing of who Jesus is. This week we hear John proclaim that Jesus is the Lamb of God.
Here is a summary of Fr Neil’s Sermon on these themes.
The figure of the servant in Isaiah has layers of meaning. Firstly the Servant embodied the vocation of the people of God as a whole- the Servant Israel. Secondly the servant speaks of the vocation and role of the prophet himself and thirdly this servant vocation has its ultimate fulfilment in the person of Jesus.
This servant is to restore the lost People of God and bring them back to faithfulness and love in a restored covenant. The people of God find that in this servant, they are enabled to rediscover their vocation, as the people of God. This is to bring light and salvation to the ends of the Earth.
How is this ultimately achieved? We are told by the powerful witness of John the Baptist’s prophetic words, “Look, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the World.” John, from the very outset of Jesus’ public ministry, sets the scene for its dramatic conclusion.
Jesus, the servant, is to restore and bring salvation by being the true Passover Lamb. He is to lead the People of God into a new Exodus; that in him and through him to be set apart, or as St Paul says ‘to be the Holy People of Jesus Christ.’
The blood of the Passover sacrifice enables us to be restored, forgiven, to be in covenant with God and be fed by his grace and divine life. The Passover Lamb leads to the Cross of Calvary and that leads to the altar at which we celebrate today. It is at this altar that the one sacrifice of Jesus, the Passover Lamb is made manifest- to which we are called to bear witness, to ask forgiveness, protection and are strengthened by his life.
We are thus strengthened to fulfil our vocation in him, of bringing light and salvation to the ends of the Earth. We do this in acts of charity, love, sacrifice, and faithfulness. We do this by liberating the oppressed, defending the poor and the innocent. This life of witness points to Jesus and cries out, “ Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the World!”