Third Sunday of Denha

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     Today the Church invites our attention to four readings from the Sacred Scripture. The first one is Numbers 11:11-20. The dominant theme here is the ingratitude of the People of Israel in the desert and their craving for meat. Moses complains to God about the burden of the people laid upon him to lead them to the land of promise. He complains that it is too heavy for him. Thereupon God tells him to choose seventy elders to whom also He will impart His Spirit to enable them to take up the responsibility of the different divisions of the people. God also promises to give the people meat to eat until they loathe it.

 

The second reading is from the Book of Isaiah 45:18-46:4. Here the fidelity of Yahweh towards the Israelites is asserted. Idol worship of the pagans is futile. The idols cannot save their devotees. But Yahweh takes care of everybody who worships Him and puts his trust in Him.

 

The third reading is from the Epistle to the Hebrews 3:14-4:10. It tells us about our holding fast the confidence in Christ firm to the end. The author warns us about the fate of the Israelites in the wilderness. The generation that went out from Egypt could not enter the Land of Promise because of their rebellion. It was up to their children to inherit the Promised Land. The Christians are advised to remain faithful to the Lord to inherit the eternal rest and bliss prepared for them.


The Gospel reading prescribed for today is St. John 1:29-42. This portion contains two important points: One is the witness of John the Baptist and the other is the episode of two disciple of John the Baptist going after Jesus and staying with Him for some time.

 

Regarding the first point, the weighty witness of John the Baptist about Jesus is expressed by the following declaration by him: Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The divine origin as well as the expiatory mission of Jesus is highlighted in this declaration. The word Lamb used by John the Baptist must be assessed against the background of the Old Testament. It alludes to the Passover Lamb because the Feast of the Passover was drawing near (Jn.2:13). The Passover Lamb was the symbol of the liberation of the People of Israel from the slavery of Egypt. This Lamb, here and now, is going to liberate the entire humanity from the bondage of sin. John the Baptist, being of priestly origin, might have been alluding to the various expiatory sacrifices slaughtering lambs at the Jerusalem Temple.

 

     John the Baptist witnesses also to the descent of the Spirit of God on Jesus and proclaims that Jesus will baptize with the Spirit. When the Spirit takes possession of a man, his life is illumined, strengthened and purified.

 

     When we come to the second point of our reflection, we see once again John the Baptist pointing beyond himself: Behold the Lamb of God. He meant that the two disciples of his standing with him should leave him and follow Jesus. This is true altruism. Men of God only can be truly altruistic. The invitation extended to them by Jesus entails an invitation to have God-experience by establishing a familiarity with Him. Jesus meant that they had to find the things that He alone could open out to them.

 

The two disciples of John the Baptist who met Jesus were John the Evangelist and Andrew, both of whom became disciples of Jesus thereafter. Andrew was the brother of Simon who was called Kepa/Peter later on. Andrew did not rest satisfied with listening to Jesus and realizing that He was the Messiah. He told Simon about his experience and brought him to Jesus. Jesus told him that he was going to have his name changed into Kepa. The word Kepa in Aramaic/Syriac means Rock, which in its Greek form has become Peter. This passage tells us how we have to communicate to others our spiritual findings in order to make them also spiritually enriched.

 

Credits: Father Thomas Kalayil, CMI <thomas 'dot' kalayil 'at' cmi 'dot' in>

 

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