Sin breaks relationships, but the Lamb of God can transform us to be the light of the nations
How do we unpack the expression: “Look, there is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
What does Sin do? It breaks relationships. For so long, because that’s the way we were taught: we’ve always thought of SIN as offending God and breaking our relationship with God.
But, what if we don’t believe in God? What if I’m angry with God, anyway, because my life is full of problems and people who are or have abused me? Can sin really make any difference?
It is much better, and meaningful, to see SIN as breaking the relationships we have with our family, Community or work colleagues. We only have to imagine if someone is found guilty of child abuse, they usually lose friends, work colleagues and most friends would cut them off.
Our smaller sins, like anger, laziness, “stealing” cookies from the cupboard, drinking excess, lack of generosity, patience or respect, annoy our family and friends and reduce the fun we have with them, but ‘small’ sins kill relationships over a period of time (of sustained sinning!).
Christ takes away the sins of the world if we allow ourselves to be transformed by the good news, the Mass and by receiving Holy Communion (inspired by the sacrifice of Christ).
After transformation (big or small), we can rebuild our relationships (slowly, according to the seriousness of our sins: all wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.(1Jn5:17)
So, with those thoughts in our mind, let’s turn to the First Reading: ‘It is not enough for you to be my servant, …; I will make you the light of the nations so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’
In other words, God is inviting each one of us to become transformers for others, even as we ourselves are transformers from time to time. As Eugene de Mazenod said: as we evangelise the poor, the poor evangelise us.
To evangelise is to provide the Good News that allows people to transform their thinking: about themselves and about others. Thereby allowing true growth in Community life as we empower each other. Being a light to the nations.
However, in the spirit of this month of January, what essential light does the world need right now? In a week or so, we will start the week of prayer for Christian unity. On the 1st January we celebrated the World Day of Peace. There is war in Haiti, D.R. Congo, Ukraine, etc.
The world needs lights of peace, but peace depends on the light of truth. As we saw in with the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission: it laid the foundations for a peaceful transition; although, now, sadly affected by corruption.
How do we change the world? We don’t. We change ourselves, and we create the opportunity for the family and people around us to be transformed. As Communities are transformed, so the nation is transformed; and so, the world can be transformed. And we start with a smile!
I recall Pope Francis’ encouraging words to the youth, when he visited Kenya in 2015: “what word can you offer to young people who don’t experience love in their families. How is it possible to come out of this experience?”
Everywhere, there are abandoned children, either at birth or as life progressed they were abandoned and they don’t feel love from their families. This is why family is so important. Defend the family. Defend the family always. everywhere there’s not only kids who are abandoned but also [the] elderly are abandoned with no one to visit to them with no-one to love them. How do you come out of this very negative experience? There is one remedy, one remedy alone, to come out of these experiences. To do that which you did not receive.
If you didn’t receive understanding, then be understanding with others. If you felt pain of loneliness come close to those who are alone, flesh is cured by flesh and God became flesh in order to cure us, let’s do the same ourselves.
In Kenya, I feel great pride, and hope for a better world, when I see our Oblate youth giving up their time, and the little finances they have, to visit the poor children in homes, and the lonely people in elder care centres. Not to mention, their care for each other.
At the Baptism of Jesus, God said: “This is my Son/Daughter in whom I am well pleased.” Through our Baptism, God said the same thing to each of you: I am well-pleased with you!
Now with joy, knowing you are God’s beloved, be the light of truth and empower your world.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI