2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time 2012

“What are you looking for?” That is the question that Jesus puts to the two disciples in the Gospel today. What were these two disciples of Saint John the Baptist looking for when they encountered Jesus Christ? Many of the Israelites of that day were looking for the Messiah: they were looking for the One Who would come and deliver the people of God from their enemies. Some of the Jewish people of that day initially thought that Saint John the Baptist might be the long-expected Messiah, but Saint John set them straight immediately and told the people that He was not: that One would come after Him—One Who would Baptize with fire and with the Holy Spirit.

When Jesus appeared on the bank of the Jordan that day there was already great expectation in the air on account of the Baptist’s preaching. Saint John had been preaching repentance: He called the people to turn away from sin and prepare their hearts. Many people came to hear Saint John preach and as a result of his preaching many people turned away from their sins and were filled with great hope: they were looking for the Promised Messiah to come and deliver them from their enemies.

Then, Jesus came along and Saint John pointed to Him and said: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him Who takes away the sins of the world.” We are all very familiar with that phrase: we hear it every time we go to Mass and we can easily take it for granted that Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. To the Jewish ear of that time, that would have been an astonishing statement. To the Jewish person of that time a lamb that took away sin was a common statement. If someone committed a serious sin in Jesus’ day a sin offering had to be made. A lamb was taken to the temple where it was slain by the priest in order that the person’s sin could be atoned for. For Saint John to say Jesus was the Lamb that would take away sin was to say that He would be slain in atonement for sin—the sin of all the world, no less—that would have been a shocking idea to those heard it. We are used to the Crucifix. We can easily take it for granted. We can walk into Church and not even notice it. But imagine what it must have been like for those two disciples to hear those words: “Behold the Lamb of God.” Essentially Saint John was telling them that man, right there, he is going to die for you and as a result of His death your sins, and the sins of everyone in the world, will be able to be washed away.
In order for one death to take away the sins of the entire world that Person must be a lot more than a mere human being. Only by virtue of His divinity, only because Jesus is God, is His death able to take away the sins of the whole world. The disciples probably didn’t understand all of that the first time they saw the Lord, but they certainly knew that this was someone they needed to know more about and so they approached Him. And He asked them “What are you looking for?” They might have been looking for a prophet; they were probably expecting the Messiah; they were certainly astounded by Saint John’s statement about Him. They didn’t answer His question, rather instead they asked Him where He was staying: they wanted to learn about Him and He invited them to follow Him.

Those disciples followed Him and they learned from Him: they witnessed His miracles and they came to believe in Him. They remained with Him and grew to love Him as their Lord; and then they were sent on a mission by Him to the ends of the earth. Whatever they were looking for, whatever they expected, they certainly did not expect all of that. Yet Jesus gave them so much more than they looked for, so much more than they hoped for, so much more than they ever could have imagined. He made them fishers of men; He told them light to be in the world; He sent them to preach the Good News to all the world and now they reign with Him in the glory of Heaven.

Jesus addresses these same words to us today: “What are you looking for?” What do you desire most in this world? What are your hopes? What are your dreams? What do you think will make you truly happy? If you answer has to do primarily with material things, I hate to tell you, but these things will not bring true, lasting happiness. We were made for God and unless we love Him above all else, we will never be truly happy. Jesus Christ invites you and me to follow Him, to remain with Him. He wants us to grow in our knowledge and love of Him. He wants you and me to be light in this world: He wants us to make Him known by our words and by our deeds. He wants us to live the Gospel in this life and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven. That is the goal and purpose of our existence and we ought to keep everything else in perspective with that end in mind. Everything in the world will disappoint us: there isn’t anything that this world has to offer that we wouldn’t eventually get bored with. It is impossible to have so many things in this world that you don’t want more: the reverse is usually true- the more you have, the more you want. God and God alone can satisfy our hearts. Let us seek Him first: let us draw near to Him and do all we can to help others come to know and love Him. By pouring ourselves out for Him and for others we will gain more than can be looked for or hoped for from this world; by seeking God first we will gain more than we can even imagine: no eye has seen, no ear has heard, our minds cannot comprehend the glory that is prepared for those who love the Lord. May we seek Him and serve Him with all of our hearts. Amen.