신앙과 교리

Home > 신앙과 교리 > 미사강론

제목 The Little Lamb Appeared in the Apocalypse(2014-12-07)
작성자 관리자 작성일 2014-12-08

 



The Little Lamb Appeared in the Apocalypse

(7th December 2014–Ecce Agnus Dei)

 

 St John’s the Baptist is the greatest of all prophets, because to him was given not only to announce Christ to come, but also to show Him with his own finger, as the Church sings in the hymn for Vespers of his feast. And how did he designate Christ? “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).


 St John the Apostle, who recalls the event, was one of the two disciples who heard and left St John the Baptist and started to follow our Lord Jesus Christ; the other apostle was St Andrew. The Gospel says: St Andrew “findeth first his brother Simon, and saith to him: We have found the Messias” (Jn. 1:41).


 Note the word “first”, which leaves to understand that the other disciple also found his own brother after, and thus indicates that this second disciple is none other than St John himself, because there were only two sets of brothers among the apostles: the older brothers were busy working to earn a living while the younger ones were listening to the Prophet John the Baptist. One sees here how Peter, James, John and Andrew were the first four apostles, as they are found in all the lists of Apostles in the Scriptures.

 Why then did John the Baptist, later when he was in prison, send two of his disciples to Jesus to ask him: “Art thou he that art to come, or look we for another?” (Mt. 11:3). He knew Who Jesus was; why then ask such question? Because St John the Baptist was so holy that many people thought perhaps he, John the Baptist, was the messiah (Lk. 3:15); and some of them were so attached to him that even he, John, was not able to make them leave him to follow Christ. So he thought that, if he was unable to explain them, Christ himself would succeed where he had not: let Him explain to them that He is the Christ. And this is what our Lord Jesus Christ does in today’s Gospel.


 He refers to the prophecy of Isaias: “God himself will come and will save you. Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall be loosed” (Is. 35:4-6).

 Our Lord Jesus Christ was thus giving TWO fundamental reasons to prove that He was the Messiah: prophecies and miracles. By performing the miracles that had been prophesied by Isaiah, He was esta­blishing the faith of his disciples on solid foundation, on an unshakable rock. He is the only founder of religion who was prophesied before his coming, and who did so many miracles. This is the finger of God, more powerful than the finger of St John the Baptist pointing out: “Behold, the Lamb of God.”

 Yet the ministry of St John the Baptist was very important. Indeed the first coming of Our Lord was a coming of humility, and it was difficult to recognise the Messiah when “He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8). The fact that such humility was prophesied by St John the Baptist strengthens our faith, so as to be able to recognise the Son of God in the Victim of the Cross, the Lamb of God.


 Indeed this gentle innocent Lamb of God is none other than the Son of God himself! True God and true man, who came to save us from our sins by the offering of himself as the Victim of the perfect Sacrifice! St Peter beautifully writes: “you were not redeemed with corruptible things as gold or silver, from your vain conversation of the tradition of your fathers: but with the precious blood of Christ, as of Lambunspottedandundefiled,”(1Pet.1:18-19).

 That our Lord would be the gentle Victim as a Lamb was already announced in the Old Testament: “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb without voice before his shearer, so openeth he not his mouth” (Is. 53:7, see Acts 8:32).

 The great quality required of the victims of the sacrifices in the Old Testament was to be spotless, immaculate. Our Lord is the Immaculate Victim, as St Paul says to the Hebrews: “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who by the Holy Ghost offered himself unspotted – immaculate – unto God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:14).


 Our Lady was as the New Eve a “helper like to Him” (Gen. 2:18), an immaculate victim soul at the foot of the Cross; many in the history of the Church such as St Thérèse of the Child Jesus were also immaculate “victims to the merciful love of Jesus”, though not as perfectly immaculate as our Lord and our Lady.


 The holy virgin Agnes, that young martyr of 13 years of age, impressed the early Fathers of the Church by this: St Ambrose says that her name itself destined her to be an immaculate victim, a little lamb of God (“agnus” in Latin means “lamb”).

 I would add another quality of little lambs: their joyfulness, jumping around. The true Christian too must have this joy of God, fruit of the Holy Ghost. Indeed St Paul says that “the fruit of the Spirit is, charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity” (Gal. 5:22-23).

 Another quality of the lamb is its gentleness, its meekness: our Lord Jesus Christ is “meek and humble of heart” (Mt. 11:29). We too ought to imitate this meekness and humility, without which no one can be saved, since “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

 Our Lord wants us to be all like to him, lambs of his flock. Indeed He said to Peter: “Feed my lambs” (Jn. 21:16). And “Behold I send you as lambs among wolves” (Lk. 10:3), not rendering evil for evil, and not trusting in their own strength, but in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the duty of the shepherds to protect the sheep and especially the little lambs. The shepherd should not be like a mercenary, saying what the world wants to hear and not what the sheep need to hear, fleeing when the wolves are coming. The “good shepherd gives his life for his sheep” (Jn. 10:11).

 In the Apocalypse, St John saw our Lord Jesus Christ as the Lamb, and refers to him 32 times as the Lamb: “And I saw: and behold in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the ancients, a Lamb standing as it were slain, having seven horns and seven eyes: which are the seven Spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth” (Apoc. 5:6).


 He as the Lamb is adored by all the angels: “And when he [the Lamb] had opened the book, the four living creatures, and the four and twenty ancients fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints:” (Apoc. 5:8). “And every creature, which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them: I heard all saying: To him that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb, benediction, and honour, and glory, and power, for ever and ever” (Apoc. 5:13).

 He shall give beatific joy to all the saints: “They shall no more hunger nor thirst, neither shall the sun fall on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall rule them, and shall lead them to the fountains of the waters of life, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Apoc. 7:16-17).

 “These [144 000 = Consecrated souls in heaven] are they who were not defiled with women: for they are virgins. These follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were purchased from among men, the firstfruits to God and to the Lamb: and in their mouth there was found no lie; for they are without spot before the throne of God” (Apoc. 14:4-5).

 Truly, “blessed are they that are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” (Apoc. 19:9). “Blessed are they that wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb: that they may have a right to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city” (Apoc. 22:14).

 This “marriage supper of the Lamb” starts here below in the Holy Mass, when the priest offers the Lamb of God to the Most Holy Trinity in adoration of His infinite perfection, thanksgiving for all his admirable gifts imparted to us, reparation for all our past sins and in order to obtain all the graces we need. And after the offering of the Sacrifice, the priest and all the faithful – well disposed – may receive “the Lamb of God, He who takes away the sins of the world”!


  Let us have a great faith in the real presence of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, as the Lamb, Victim of the perfect Sacrifice and food of our souls! Let us always keep our soul pure in order to be ready to receive Him! Let us always receive Him worthily and live accordingly afterwards: a Catholic who has received in his soul the very Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist cannot live a life like worldly souls; he must live a heavenly life already on earth, a life worthy of such Guest: Christ must live in him!

 My dear brethren, let us follow our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God as St John the Baptist said, and imitate his virtues, his purity, his gentleness, his meekness and humility, his joy! Let us clean our souls in the Blood of the Lamb, by good confessions and a holy life! And let us look forward to this marriage feast of the Lamb, with our Lady and all the Saints! Amen.


Fr. F. Laisney (sspxasia)