Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
John 1: 29-34
Dear surfers, today I am going to offer you a homily for the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time for year cycle A. This is a homily of my own creation, borne out of the frustration of many years of poor Sunday homilies. As I prepared for Mass this Sunday we have a Gospel that lends itself to rich homily possibilities, but for lazy preachers there is low hanging fruit that requires no effort to produce pablum. I was getting on with my rant about how uninspiring the homily will be this Sunday and my wife stopped me. She said that I should make my own homily. She knows that I often make my own homilies but this time I believe she was tired of my ranting and she wanted me to stop being negative and do something positive. God bless her. I made the decision to share this homily with you. I hope these words help bring you closer to God.
When I turn the gospel according to John and read about John the Baptist pointing to Jesus, saying: “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” I want to scream, “NO!” I have come to believe that our images of God are far too narrow. As far as I’m concerned most of our ideas about God fall far short of every even beginning to describe who God might be.
– Pastor Dawn (Holy Cross Lutheran)
When I read these words of Pastor Dawn I was struck by how closely her reaction matched my own reaction. Mine was more of a moan than a scream and mumble of disappointment with rolling of the eyes rather than a “no.” Regardless of the reaction I can safely say that over the years Christian thought on this topic has centered around the Paschal Sacrifice who redeemed the world by dying for our sins so that we may be washed in the blood of the Lamb. This misanthropic concept of sin lead to the heinous teaching known as penal substitutionary atonement. The Catechism teaches us that  “Christ’s death is both the Paschal sacrifice that accomplishes the definitive redemption of men, through ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’, and the sacrifice of the New Covenant, which restores man to communion with God by reconciling him to God through the ‘blood of the covenant, which was poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’.”
This was all well and good as the framers of these concepts believed in the three tier universe. Today we understand clearly that there is no heaven above the clouds and no hell under the earth. We also understand that Adam and Eve were not real people. This Sunday we need to recognize that the life of Jesus was more than just a sacrificial death. The early Christians saw the world through the eyes of their Jewish traditions, so Yom Kippur and Passover were co-opted by those Christians and reintroduced in a new way. If today we are to grow in Grace we need to let go of antiquated teachings and focus on living a life that is pleasing to God. By focusing on the life of Jesus, and not the death, we can accomplish great deeds and bring about the kingdom of Heaven on Earth. Today’s Catholic Church can co-opt those old Christian notions and reintroduce them in a new way.
The Catechism teaches  “The glory of God consists in the realization of this manifestation and communication of his goodness, for which the world was created. God made us ‘to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace’, for ‘the glory of God is man fully alive; moreover man’s life is the vision of God: if God’s revelation through creation has already obtained life for all the beings that dwell on earth, how much more will the Word’s manifestation of the Father obtain life for those who see God.”
God lives in each and every person. To see God is to recognize that God is the ground of our being. Our Catholic worship does not begin and end at Mass. Today we understand that Sunday Mass is one extension of our Catholic worship and the worship in our small parish community must extend to the greater community -our world. If we take away anything from the homily today it should be to broaden our sense of what worshiping God is all about -life, not death.
One of our great teachers is St. Francis de Sales. St. Francis teaches us that “you learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; in just the same way, you learn to love by loving.” Echoing these words Pastor Dawn expands this understanding to shown that if “God is the source of life, we worship God by living. If God is the source of Love, we worship God by loving. If God is the ground of being, we worship God by having the courage to be more fully human; and thus the embodiment of the Divine.”
You remember well the idiom that “practice makes perfect” and I pray that today and every day that you have the courage to practice being fully alive and witness the glory of God in everything you do and to everybody you meet. God bless.