by Fr. Tommy Lane
On Thursday August 21st 1879 fifteen people witnessed an apparition in Knock, County Mayo. It was a most unusual apparition, so unusual that we might even miss the point. One of the visionaries, Bridget Trench, explained, “I was so taken with the Blessed Virgin that I did not pay much attention to any other.” At the center of the gable of the church the witnesses saw an altar and a lamb on it, about the size of a two-month-old lamb. The lamb was facing in the direction of Our Lady, John the Evangelist and Joseph. Behind the lamb was a large cross on the altar. It is the only apparition in the world that I am aware of in which Jesus has come as a lamb. John the Evangelist was preaching, he had a book in his hand which looked like a Book of the Gospels or Mass Book. The apparition was really a representation of what takes place at Mass. At every Mass the Word of God is proclaimed to us in the Liturgy of the Word, and in the Liturgy of the Eucharist Jesus is offered to the Father in sacrifice on our behalf just as in the apparition in Knock John was preaching the Word and the Lamb was being offered on the altar. The apparition at Knock was to remind us that Jesus is the Lamb of God who, as John says in our Gospel today, has come to take away the sins of the world.
We are conscious of sin in our own lives, and we are conscious of sin in the world around us. I have heard some people saying that now the world “is gone to the devil.” Only Jesus is the solution to our own personal problems and to the problems of the world at large. Two thousand years ago Jesus cast out demons in Palestine and Jesus is the one who can conquer all evil and negativity now. What do you do to conquer problems in your life? Some people turn to drink, some to drugs, others turn to all sorts of solutions that really will not solve the problem. These quick-fix solutions leave us with the same problem tomorrow because they are not treating the cause of our problem.
The cause of all our problems is spiritual. To put it simply, we are sick in the soul. When we are sick in the soul it is easy for us to become sick in the mind and then sick in the body. There is a phrase “a healthy mind in a healthy body” and I certainly believe there is a lot of truth in it because I feel great every time after my swim. I also believe the state of our soul affects our whole being, mind and body. That is why when some people come to me with certain problems I give them a prescription, a spiritual prescription. I recommend them to pray for as much as possible every day and to go to daily Mass if they are free to do so, and I recommend uplifting passages from the Bible for daily reading. To heal the body we take medicine, and when we are sick in the soul we need to take spiritual medicine. In the miracles of Jesus one example stands out, the paralyzed man let down through the roof. Firstly Jesus healed his soul by forgiving him his sins and then he healed his body from the paralysis (Luke 5:18-26). In all of our problems let us turn to Jesus, the Lamb of God who has come to take way the sins of the world.
Build your life on Jesus, let Jesus be the foundation of your life. He is the lamb who will take away your sins. Psychologists will help you get an insight into the human causes of your problems, counselors will help you deal with your guilt, but only Jesus the Lamb of God can take that guilt away. A barman said to me once that he had heard many confessions. I am sure he did. But he could not absolve the sins. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Because we are sick in the soul go to Jesus to be relieved of your burdens. Watching too much TV is a waste of time. It won’t bring real deep peace to your soul. It leaves us with negative images and images of sin on our minds. Reading magazines and newspapers can also leave us with negative thought patters. Much of what we see on TV and read in magazines and newspapers is not from God. For the peace that you want go to Jesus. Only Jesus, the Lamb of God can bring us the peace that we need and heal our souls.
During the Hebrews’ last night in Egypt a lamb was slaughtered by each household for the Passover meal before leaving. The blood was put on the doorframes so that God would pass over their households and not harm them. Jesus, offering his blood to us, is the new Passover lamb, whose blood is shed to save us, that God may pass over our sins. During every Mass Jesus says to us, “This is my Body which will be given up for you”, “This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant...It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven”. Jesus brings us inner peace, heals our souls, because he took all our sinfulness on himself.
The apparition in Knock reminds us that during every Mass Jesus the Lamb of God is offered to the Father for us. In every Mass as we near the time for Holy Communion we call on the Lamb of God three times, twice to take away our sins and a third time to grant us peace. In response the priest raises the host and says, “This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” In the last book of the Bible, Revelation, we see the liturgy of heaven and Jesus in heaven is called the Lamb. So when we call Jesus the Lamb of God during Mass it reminds us that we have heaven on earth. Jesus says to us, “This is my Body which will be given up for you”, “This is the cup of my blood...It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven.” Happy are we who are called to his supper.
Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013
More homilies for the Second Sunday Year A
Related Homilies: Baptism of Our Lord (First Sunday)
On Jesus taking away the sins of the world see homilies on the Sacrament of Reconciliation