January 19 is the second Sunday of “ordinary time,” one of the counted weeks of the liturgical year that are not part of liturgical seasons like Advent and Lent. Some “ordinary time” Sundays occur after Christmas — how many depends on whether Easter, a movable feast day, is early or late; the rest of the “ordinary” or counted Sundays are after Easter.
Last Sunday we heard the account of the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist from Matthew’s Gospel. Today we hear the account from John’s Gospel, and there is a unique element: John calls Jesus the “Lamb of God,” a title we use repeatedly at every Eucharistic celebration. Here’s an interesting piece of Catholic lore. When a bishop is made an archbishop, a leader of an archdiocese, he receives a pallium, a sort of scarf he wears when vesting in his robes of office. The pallium is made from the wool of two lambs, one representing Christ the Lamb of God and the other representing the Good Shepherd. Both these images were important in the early church of Matthew and John. Pope Francis has told his priests to smell like the sheep — like shepherds do — meaning to be close to people, to care for them personally. People came to Jesus of Nazareth because they needed care. “Lamb of God” meant that this Jesus who had been crucified was truly the Son of God, Christ the Victor who had come with power to defeat evil and even death. Early Christians lived in a dangerous world and they needed that assurance. At times in my life I need that close presence of the Good Shepherd. At other times, when I am facing calamity or am aware of evil, I need the power of the Lamb of God. And sometimes I need both! How about you?
— Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia