Voices ever ancient, ever new. Christmas Weekday: Friday before Epiphany

“The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

In commenting upon this verse from today’s Mass Readings, Origen of Alexandria writes:

“There are five animals that are offered on the altar, three being land animals and two winged. It seems worthwhile to me to ask why the Savior is said to be a “lamb” by John and none of the rest. But also, in the case of the land animals, since three types of animal are offered according to each species, why did he name the lamb from the species of sheep? Now these are the five animals: a young bull, a sheep, a goat, a turtledove, a pigeon.

And the three types of sheep are a ram, the ewe and the lamb. It is the lamb, however, that we find offered in the perpetual sacrifices. What other perpetual sacrifice can be spiritual to a spiritual being than the Word in his prime, the Word symbolically called “lamb”? But if we examine the declaration about Jesus, who is pointed out by John in the words “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” from the standpoint of the plan of salvation when the Son of God bodily lived among the human race, we will assume that the lamb is none other than his humanity. For he “was led as a sheep to the slaughter and was dumb as a lamb before its shearer,” saying, “I was an innocent lamb being led to be sacrificed.”

This is why in the Apocalypse, too, a little lamb is seen “standing as though slain.” This lamb, indeed, which was slain according to certain secret reasons, has become the expiation of the whole world. According to the Father’s love for humanity, he also submitted to slaughter on behalf of the world, purchasing us with his own blood from him who bought us when we had sold ourselves into sin. He, however, who led this lamb to the sacrifice was God in man, the great high priest, who reveals this through the saying, “No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again.” (Commentary on the Gospel of John, 6)

Cast your kindly light upon your faithful,
Lord, we pray,
and with the splendor of your glory
set their hearts ever aflame,
that they may never cease to acknowledge their Savior
and may truly hold fast to him.
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Glory to You Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning is now
and will be forever. Amen. Alleluia!