As soon as he sees him, John introduces Jesus as “the Lamb of God”, the one “who takes away the sin of the world”. John says that he himself did not know him, yet he understood exactly who this Jesus was, and what his mission was going to be. As we journey through this coming year, we shall constantly be seeing Jesus approaching other people, usually people who have gone wrong. He is never the one to sit there waiting for them to repent and come to him asking for forgiveness. He walks towards them, he reaches out to them, he always offers them a new possibility. Moreover, their sins need not be a burden for them anymore because, like the lamb let loose into the wilderness to be devoured by the wild beasts, Jesus has taken upon his shoulders the people’s sins and will eventually give his life for them.
This is indeed good news. With all the Christmas celebrations over, we now enter into this “ordinary time” of the year, the longest time in the Church calendar. Our lives are mainly made up of ordinary things and events. The extraordinary is often only the exception. And it is in the ordinariness of our everyday life that Jesus comes to meet us: as we go around doing our daily chores, as we do our best to live our vocations, as we struggle through our weaknesses, our weaknesses, our feelings of inadequacy.
In the ordinariness of our lives we are called to live out our vocation. All three readings of today’s liturgy remind us that we are all called to do something for others in life. We do not live our lives just for ourselves. John’s mission was to prepare his people for the arrival of Jesus. In the first reading the prophet knows that he was called from the time when he was still in his mother’s womb to bring the wayward people of Israel back to their God. Paul, then is convinced that he was called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ, one who is called by Jesus to be sent out to bring his message to other peoples. It is in accepting and embracing this message that the people, irrespective of their nationality, can truly become saints. This is a very beautiful concept that Paul introduces to us. Were he to write a letter to us, Paul would not hesitate in calling us Saints. Because for him, the saint is not one who is perfect, but one who has accepted Jesus’ message in his life and does his best to live it. We are prone to make mistakes as we go along. What is important is that, once we realize what we have done, we do not stay there. All we have to do is get up, learn something from it, and move on. On my own I would not have been able to do this. I would probably stay focused on my misery, my weakness, my nothingness. But today's liturgy reminds me that, even in those moments, Jesus is reaching out to me. He is giving me a hand to help me get up, dust myself, and move on.