Homily for January 19

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Homily for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptures for today's Mass

When I was a child I was always taught that it’s “impolite to point.”

As with many things, back in the day, no explanation was offered -

just the caution that it was impolite to point.

It seems, then, at least in this regard, that John the Baptist

may not be a particularly good role model for us

since the gospel clearly indicates his pointing to Jesus and saying:

 “Behold!  Look!  Over there! That One!  He’s the One!

He’s the Lamb of God of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

John does a lot of pointing here - pointing at Jesus!

In our own times, of course,

whether pointing your finger at someone is impolite or not,

it’s generally considered politically impolite

to point to Jesus in any social settings

much less to offer the personal testimony, as did John, that:

 “Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

You also might want to think twice before using that

as a pick-up line at a bar

or a conversation starter at a business meeting or cocktail party.

But that’s just what John the Baptist did.

Right out there in public, he pointed and said:

Look! the Lamb of God…  who takes away the sin…  of the world…

Well… if Jesus takes away the sin of the world,

how come there’s so much sin left in the world?

If, on the Cross, Jesus, the Lamb of God, the sacrificial lamb

-if in his suffering and death he took on himself and took away

the sins of all time

- how come there’s so much sin in the world today?

I’m afraid the answer to that question is an uncomfortable one.

Jesus did, indeed, bear on his shoulders the sin of the world.

But, in a kind of spiritual tug-of-war with Jesus:

we’re very good at holding on to the sin of the world;

we’re experts at holding on to our own sins.

We’re practiced in clinging, tenaciously,

to our many faults and failings --

rather than let Jesus take away the sin that burdens us,

that separates us from God, from one another

- and even separates us from our better selves.

On his shoulders, on his scarred back, on his thorn-crowned head,

Jesus carried, took away, the very sins we cling to and hold on to.

• Yet, still - nations depend on destructive, sinful, violence

as a solution to its geo-political disagreements.

• Still, we persist in the sinful scandal

of the millions of people around the world who are starving

while we waste what’s in our kitchen cupboards

and on the plates at our tables.

• Still we cling to petty grudges,

preferring resentment to reconciliation.

• In our entertainment we embrace the cheap, the tawdry and the lusty

as if what’s beautiful and true and pure

were somehow beyond our reach.

• By our silence and our failure to act

we perpetuate the injustices that so many suffer.

• We tolerate divisions among us

in favor of our pride and ego.

• Still we greedily collect and hoard more and more

of what we already have in great store,

of so many things we really don’t even need

while others around us (and around the world) want

for even the most basic of human necessities.

• Still we hang on to our own sins

for the fleeting pleasure they afford us,

for the momentary comfort we find in them,

for the ways they shield us from the challenge of change and growth.

I know: I paint an unhappy picture, a nasty scenario.

But, look!  Behold!  Over there!

And here - and there, too!

There he is!  he’s the One! Jesus!

The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world

- and takes away our own sins, too.

And no matter how tenaciously we cling to our faults and failings,

no matter in how many ways we cling to our sins,

no matter how deep our pride,

Jesus never fails in reaching out - from the arms of the Cross  -

reaching out to take away the sins of the world.

And perhaps that’s why we’re slow, so very slow,

to even mention the name of Jesus in polite company.

Perhaps that’s why we’re so reticent

to offer personal testimony of our faith in Jesus:

because we know we’re holding back precisely

what he wants to take away from us.

John the Baptist pointed to Jesus

because he knew how much we need him.

Each of us needs, every day, every morning,

to point to Jesus ourselves,

to recognize him as the Lamb of God

who takes away not only the sin of the world,

but our own sins as well.

We need Jesus in our lives!

Every morning,

every day, you and I need to pray: O God: give me Jesus!

1) In the morning when I rise…

2) Oh, and when I am alone…

3) Oh, and when I come to die…


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