Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 20, 2008

Isaiah 49: 3, 5-6

1 Corinthians 1: 1-3

John 1: 29-34

A word of explanation :
The reference to the Lamb could be based on any of three Old Testament texts: a figure of the Suffering Servant who takes on himself the sinful condition of the world (Isaah 53, 7 : like a lamb led to the slaughter, like sheep before the shearer) and in this case, John would be seeing in Jesus the Servant who takes on the sinfulness of the world ;

Or the lamb who is immolated in the Apocalypse (Ap 5, 9), able to be victorious over sin;

Or the Paschal Lamb (Ex 12), for, according to John 19, 4 Jesus was condemned at the hour when the priests began to sacrifice the Paschal lambs.

John the Evangelist gives a very original version of the Baptism because it is John who sees the Holy Spirit descend and remain with Jesus. His bodily eyes see a man: "after me comes a man," he says; but the revelation of God allows him to see Jesus as the Son of God. John the Baptist gives witness at the same time to the fact that Jesus is the Lamb of God, the one who has always existed, the Son of God filled with the Holy Spirit. His authority as witness comes to him from the One who sent him: "I did not know him but the One who sent me to baptize with water told me: 'The man on whom you will see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize in the Holy Spirit."

Jesus is clothed with the Holy Spirit, and this confirms his role as Messiah and Prophet bearing the divine word. The Spirit, indeed, is the breath of God, the source of life and of the authoritative word. To possess the Holy Spirit means that one is in the position to be prophet and messiah. But John the Baptist goes further when he uses the word 'remain' or 'dwell' which in Johannine vocabulary designates a stronger bond of mutual and reciprocal relationship.

The Servant that Isaiah compares to a lamb bears the sin of the world, violence in all its forms. Christ, the Lamb of God, takes sin away. Like the servant in Isaiah, Jesus endures the evil of which he is the victim without furthering it by violence. Thus, the Cross reveals Gods truth with regard to violence: freely and through love, Jesus makes the evil he endures the very place of his self-giving, preferring to be a victim of violence rather than adding to and abetting the continuation of evil. In his death, Jesus shows that God has given his Son the power to overcome evil. It is the role, moreover, of the Spirit of God to give the necessary strength. For this reason, in Johns Gospel, this ultimate attack by the power of evil at the time of the Passion, is proclaimed as early as the baptism. In the heart of Jesus, the combat between the powers of darkness and the Spirit of God takes place. John the Baptist announces the combat and that Jesus will come out Victor because the Spirit of God is with him.

The text from Isaiah in the first reading throws light on the mission of Jesus: to bring humanity back to God. The salvation of God should reach to the ends of the earth and touch every human being. Jesus victory over evil and death is possible for humans also because the Son of God on whom rests the Spirit is the 'one who will baptize in the Holy Spirit.

—Sophie Ramond, R.A.