Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Seeing Jesus …. John said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God!'” Yes, we want to behold Jesus, to look at him with love. But how can we exchange with Jesus the glance that lovers share? True, he told us how to see him in others, “Whatever you did for one of these least of mine, you did for me,” (Mt 25:40). But, we still hunger for his personal look of love for us: “Have you seen him whom my soul loves?” (Song of Songs 3:3). We know the risen Lord is in heaven where his loving gaze is always upon us, and we hope to see him there. But, like John the Baptist, we want to behold Jesus loving us right here and now. In a wonderful way this desire of our hearts is fulfilled when we receive Jesus present in the Eucharist. Our greatest grace every day is the embrace of Jesus in the communion of his Body and Blood.
But he gives us yet another way to exchange the look that lovers share. We can really be with Jesus in all the mysteries of his earthly life. We can be with the shepherds crowding into the dimly lit cave at Bethlehem, or with John the Baptist gently submerging Jesus in the flowing waters of the Jordan River, or with the adventurous apostles sailing with Jesus on the bumpy Sea of Galilee. We can stand before him with his mother on the hard rock of Golgotha, or lie prostrate with Mary Magdalene clinging tightly to the pierced feet of the risen Jesus. We are not too late to enter the real presence of the historical Jesus in all the mysteries of his earthly life and to be seen by him during his lifetime, because all the events of Jesus’ life are both human and divine, in time and beyond time. That is why they are called mysteries.
How can we be there? Can we really enter the presence of the earthly, historical Jesus and exchange a glance of love with him? Can we share in the mysteries of his earthly life two thousand years later? Yes, we can.
Pope Pius XI taught this in his encyclical on reparation to the Sacred Heart, Miserentissimus Redemptor, Our Most Merciful Redeemer. He writes, “How can [our reparation] bring comfort now, when Christ is already reigning in the beatitude of heaven?” And he answers, “Anyone who has great love of God, if he will look back through … time may dwell … on Christ, and see Him laboring, suffering … and bruised for our sins … because the sins and crimes committed in every age … caused the passion of our Lord. … Now if, because of our sins which were as yet in the future, but were foreseen, the soul of Christ became sorrowful unto death, it cannot be doubted that then also, he derived comfort from our reparation which was likewise foreseen. … [We can] fulfill the office of the Angel consoling Jesus in the garden,” (## 13-19).
Yes! Christ sweat blood during his agony in Gethsemane from every sin ever committed, because in his divine nature he is present to all of time, to all our thoughts, words, and actions. If I sin now, he sees it and I offend him back then. But also, if I do good now he sees it and looks at me with love back then. Jesus lying in the manger or hanging on the cross is always looking at me because he is the Son of God present to all of time. So, when I pray and cast my gaze upon Jesus who is looking at me with love back then, I behold the Lamb of God and exchange with him the lover’s glance. The words of the psalmist apply even to the historical Jesus: “O Lord, you search me and you know me, you know my resting and my rising, you discern my purpose from afar. You mark when I walk or lie down. All my ways lie open to you … Too wonderful this knowledge, too high, beyond my reach,” (Ps. 139).
We are really present to Jesus during all the events of his earthly life. He is looking at us, waiting for us to return his look of love. We are more fortunate than the shepherds at Bethlehem who came to the cave by night, adored the new born Savior, and then went back to their fields. We can love Jesus in Bethlehem’s cave over and over again. We are more fortunate than John the Baptist who was present only at the beginning of Jesus’ public life, because we can share with Jesus a look of love throughout all the events of his life. Oh, how blessed we are! We can behold the Lamb of God and share with him the glance that lovers share.