Second Sunday of Year A
Friends of mine recently, who have difficulties, like many couples today, in conceiving a child, told me how excited they were on hearing the heartbeat of their baby at 8 weeks in the womb. What a miracle, and what a gift it is to be alive, to have come into this world. What a cross for those who cannot conceive; what a joy and privilege for those who have conceived. Yet for all of us what a wonder it is for us to have been conceived, to be alive.
Throughout the scriptures, God is seen as the author of life, and particularly of unborn life. This is the first lesson of today’s readings: that from the womb He knows us and has a plan for us. He knew us before we were born. The prophet Isaiah in the first reading today from the Old Testament was called by God and known from the womb. We should reflect on the greatness of our existence and what a gift it is to be alive. Throughout the Scriptures God is seen to be the Author of Life – for Jeremiah (‘before I formed you in the womb, I knew you’), for John the Baptist; and for Jesus (we recall the words of Gabriel to Mary: ‘you are to conceive and bear a son and you must name him Jesus’).
The second lesson of today’s readings is that Jesus is the Lamb of God. John, God’s chosen prophet even before he was conceived in his mother, Elizabeth, is crucial in preparing people for the reception of the coming of Jesus, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
Jesus is the Lamb of God who meets us, now today, and heals and nourishes us in the sacraments.
Every time we come to Mass we hear those words of John the Baptist: ‘this is the Lamb of God’. We respond with a prayer of welcome and healing. We acknowledge our sinfulness and weakness at the beginning of every Mass.
Jesus is ‘the Lamb of God who takes away our sins’ in Baptism, and does so again in Confession, in Confirmation He baptises us in the Holy Spirit, and in the Holy Eucharist He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper’ – ultimately to the heavenly banquet - to eternal life.
We respond: “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and I shall be healed’.
Jesus is here to help us along our journey, to heal us, to strengthen us and to meet us in the sacraments we receive. Let us turn to Him for healing: whether it be mental, physical, emotional, relational, spiritual. While each time taken to receive Jesus should be a time to examine our consciences as to whether we have striven to be worthy to receive Him through the avoidance of sin, let each encounter with the Lord Jesus in Holy Communion be real and not out of mere habit or ritual, but also a time taken for a prayer for healing, in heartfelt prayer. Ask for healing today, wherever that be necessary for you in your life.
God’s plan for each of us therefore, planned from eternity, is to be happy in love with him forever in heaven where we will behold the Lamb of God face to face, as we only see him now with the eyes of faith in the Eucharist. That is the meaning of our being called into existence by God who knew us even before we were conceived or born. This is the reason for our Sunday Eucharist, the foretaste and promise and pledge of our eternal life, and the fulfillment of all our yearnings for love, peace and happiness.