You and I, as 21st century Americans, may not get the image John shares with us in this Sunday’s Gospel. As Jesus walks by, John the Baptist says to his two disciples, “Behold the Lamb of God.” When we think of a lamb, we probably picture a cute, warm and fuzzy little beast. I have a stuffed lamb that sits in my office. My particular lamb is black, reminding me of the back sheep, the rebel, the trouble-maker, that we all tend to be sometimes. You are probably familiar with Lambchop, ventriloquist Sherri Lewis’ puppet. Maybe you picture the sheep that promote a certain brand of mattress.
Or, if you’re more into food than stuffed animals, you may think of lamb chops with mint jelly. Lamb stew, or Irish stew may be in your mind. If you’ve been to the Emerald Isle, you know that, outside of the cities, sheep and lambs are everywhere. In America you’re most likely to see an actual lamb at a petting zoo.
But, to a first century Jew, the lamb was a symbol of sacrifice. When John pointed out Jesus as the Lamb of God, his message was that Jesus would become a sacrifice. He would be killed. Even so, the disciples chose to follow Him, knowing that they might also be called to sacrifice their own lives. The question is, are we willing to follow the Lamb? Are we willing to give up everything for the sake of the kingdom?
Here’s a link to an excellent homily by Father Robert Barron on this Gospel. It’s about fifteen minutes long and well worth your time. Check it out.