The Lamb of God
Sunday, 14th April 2019
All in the April evening
April airs were abroad;
I saw the sheep with their lambs
And thought of the Lamb of God.
These are the last lines of the well – known poem written by Katherine Tynan who was born at Whitehall Dairy Farm in Clondalkin in 1861.
Some years ago, my nephew, Dermot, who grew up in Georgia in the States, took Aimee, his wife, on a tour of Ireland. It must have been this time of year because Aimee fell in love with the sheep and the lambs all over the country and took hundreds of photos of them! When they arrived at Granny’s in Trim, Granny had a big pot of tea ready and a huge plate of sandwiches. They were really enjoying the sandwiches when American Aimee asked casually, “What kind of sandwiches are these?” When Granny said “Lamb – lamb sandwiches!” poor Aimee nearly got sick! She couldn’t cope with the thought of eating those beautiful gentle creatures!
When John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and said, “Look, there is the Lamb of God!” he was thinking of all the lambs sacrificed in the temple every day and especially at the Pasch – sacrificed and eaten! So, he’s really saying, “Look, there is the lamb to be sacrificed for us in the future!”
When Jesus at the Last Supper says, “This is my body given for you, this is my blood poured out for you,” we should feel a thousand times more disturbed than Aimee was at the thought of eating the lamb sandwiches! I can’t take this! This is too much! It’s just that we’re so used to the invitation during mass to eat the Lamb of God: “Behold the Lamb of God… Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” It doesn’t disturb us in the same way that it confused and disturbed the first disciples.
With Jesus, of course, it’s a completely different kind of eating. There are no human words that can explain it. When we eat a lamb sandwich, it becomes part of us but when we eat the Lamb of God, we become part of God. We become part of the mystery that God is! During this Holy Week, let’s make time to reflect again on the wonder of all this and to praise and thank God for the great gift of faith and hope. It’s all summed up in the words we say at every mass when the drop of water is drowned in the wine:
By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity