Father Val was dying. Bishop John visited him at the hospital. Father Val did not respond to his greeting, so Bishop John shook him gently, saying, “Val, can you hear me?” Finally, Father Val stirred and opened his eyes. Bishop John asked, “Val, how are you doing?” Father Val replied, “Not so good. I was hoping to see Jesus.... But it’s you.”
We want to see Jesus. In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist directs our gaze to him with the words, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” John has seen the Holy Spirit descend from heaven over Jesus. John has heard the voice of the Father proclaim, “This is my beloved Son.” So John testifies confidently that the Lamb of God is also “the Son of God.”
We might envy the contemporaries of Jesus who saw him in his mortal body. But we see Jesus sacramentally. And the words of John the Baptist proclaim this at every Mass: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world.”
In the passage immediately following today’s Gospel, two of John’s disciples follow Jesus and spend a day with him at the place where he is staying (John 1:35-39). Again, we might envy them, but we have an even greater privilege. We become the place where Jesus is staying when we receive him in Holy Communion.
Today’s Gospel is the transition between the Christmas season and “Ordinary Time.” The Church reminds us that Jesus is present to us not just at special celebrations like Christmas, but also in the ordinary events of everyday life. We see Jesus in the Eucharist. We receive him in Holy Communion.
Father Val said to Bishop John, “I was hoping to see Jesus.... But it’s you.” At Mass, when we look toward the altar at the words of John the Baptist, we hope to see Jesus. And we do!
May Mary, Mother of Jesus, Mother of the Eucharist, open our eyes to this reality.