This is my homily given at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica today:
“Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” Surely, we recognize these words which take place near the end of the Mass and during the communion rite, when we together; me as the priest and you as the faithful people of God look upon the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ with true and honest faith and devotion, believing these words as fully and completely as John the Baptist did when he proclaimed them in the setting of today’s Gospel.
We then proclaim the words of the Roman centurion, who asked Jesus to heal his sick servant in the 8th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, “I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed”.
Friends, these words are not Scripture piecemeal, these are perhaps the strongest, purest, most meaningful professions of our faith. To declare who we see, who we see, when what is right now, Bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus our Lord and declare Him with the same faith as St. John did, the Lamb of God mustn’t just be words we utter with our lips or declare by rote. These words must carry the meaning they did for St. John, but so much so that we are prepared to give everything we have for these words.
We know the Gospel account of the life of John the Baptist and we know that the Name and Person of God would cost Him. In today’s world that we live in, a world not as different from Gospel times as we might think if we were really to reflect – not a bad world, but a world with much indifference, much greed, ambition – many reasons not to want the Gospel and the Lamb of God to be a part of that world – isn’t that the very same world we are a part of?
And I say not a bad world, because we have many parish churches that are full, at least many of them in the Archdiocese of Toronto, and every single person in every one of these churches wants a relationship with Jesus, we all do. What are we prepared to give for that relationship? What extent are we to believe?
Are we to be Disciples or Friend of Jesus or are we to be acquaintances? An acquaintance gives nothing for the one with whom he is acquainted, a Disciple or friend gives everything for that friendship of mutual love and respect. I don’t just ask you that question before I ask it of myself.
There are days, more than I would like to admit that I am merely an acquaintance of Jesus and where I’m not willing to give much for my faith – but each day I pray that it not going to be one of those days and I think it’s important for us all to do the same. If we truly “behold the Lamb of God” here this morning at Holy Mass, then not only are our sins washed away, but the impurities of our hearts and intentions are too. If we believe this happens, and I assure you it can and will if we allow the outpouring of grace to permeate our souls – we are ready to give it all for Jesus, for the Name above all other names, for the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. We are truly blessed as we are called here to the supper of the Lamb and having been fed, to journey out there and nourish others with our well-fed souls. May God bless you.