EPIPHANY II A, 2020
Sacred Scripture tells us that Our Lord Jesus was sent to lead a new exodus — to raise up the exiled tribes of Israel, to gather and restore them to God. He came as Servant and Son. More than that, Jesus is a light to the nations [something disputed in these days – yes, we proclaim that salvation is in the name of Christ Jesus] so that the light of God’s salvation must reach to the ends of the earth (Acts 13:46–47).
The prophet Isaiah in today’s First Reading claims the Lord says: “You are my servant Israel in whom I will be glorified . . . And now the Lord, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, says: “I will give you as a light to the nations.”
Before the first exodus of the people of Israel from Egypt, a lamb was offered in sacrifice and its blood painted on the Israelites’ door posts. The blood of the lamb identified the homes of those who were in slavery and the Lord “passed over” but executed judgment on their slave masters (Exodus 12:1–23, 27).
In the new exodus, Jesus is the “Lamb of God,” as St. John the Baptist beholds Him in the Gospel today (1 Corinthians 5:7). He has come, Jesus says, to offer His body to do the will of God the Father (Hebrews 10:3–13).
The sacrifices, oblations, holocausts, and sin offerings given after the first exodus had no power to take away sins (see Hebrews 10:4). They were meant not to save but to teach(Galatians 3:24). In offering these sacrifices, the people were to learn self-sacrifice—that they were made for worship, to offer themselves freely to God and to delight in His will.
Only Jesus, the sinless One, could make that perfect offering of Himself. And through His sacrifice, Jesus has opened our ears to obedience, He has made it possible for us to hear the Father’s call to holiness, as St. Paul speaks in today’s Epistle: “to those who are sanctified in Christ.”
He has made us children of God, baptized in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14). And we are to join our sacrifice to His, (just as we do in the Mass) “pray brethren that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable – we offer our bodies —our lives—as living sacrifices in the spiritual worship of the Mass (Romans 12:1) and in the Mass of daily living with and for others.