“Behold the Lamb of God” — “I did not know him.”
The “Book of Signs” in the Gospel of St. John begins with the story of John the Baptist – the Baptist’s statement of his own role in preparing the way of the Lord and his witness to the role of Jesus. John the Baptist saw Jesus coming and told his disciples, “Behold the Lamb of God …” He also admitted to them, “I did not know him … but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the holy Spirit.'” (Jn 1: 29, 33) Based on the Baptist’s testimony, Andrew, brother of Simon Peter, and John, son of Zebedee, followed after Jesus and became his first disciples.
How truly even today we do not recognize the Lord came clearly to me about this time seventeen years ago. My husband and I had two wonderful sons, and we had been hoping to have another child. Everything seemed to point to it being the right time and I had become pregnant as we hoped. Then in mid-January, it all fell apart. The baby in my womb died. We found out the news on a Saturday, but there was no need to do anything immediately, so the decision was made to wait until Monday to arrange for further treatment.
We went ahead and took down our Christmas tree. We had the birthday party for our firstborn, with most of his classmates attending, as we had planned. And on Monday morning, as symptoms of the miscarriage appeared, we went to Kaiser and I had the procedure to complete the process.
It was a very difficult time. We had very much wanted that child. And it was not to be.
The previous year, we had received a free overnight stay at a nice hotel up in the California wine country, to be used at a time of our choice. So we decided to go there a week or so later. That evening, I went for a walk through the courtyard by myself. I was praying. It wasn’t easy to pray during those couple of weeks. I asked the Lord, “Where have you been?” And I received his response in a series of images of faces that came into my mind. The couple who had stayed into the evening after the birthday party, so we wouldn’t have to be alone with our sorrow. The nurse who did the preliminary exam and shared that she too had lost a baby, but now had a healthy child. Another nurse who held my hand and told me it was OK to cry, as the procedure began. The doctor who was so kind and gentle. My parents, who sent flowers. They had never sent flowers before that day, but they did when I needed them. The other relatives who sent cards and plant arrangements. My son’s teacher, herself a young widow, who came after school and spent a couple of hours with me, just being there.
As all of these images and memories came to me, I knew where Jesus had been. He was right there, in his body, the People of God, the Mystical Body of Christ, about whom I had learned as a child. He was with me.
Behold the Lamb of God. Like John the Baptist, I did not recognized him when he came in person through all those wonderfully kind and thoughtful people. But the Lord is kind, and, like the Baptist, I got a second chance to recognize him – in the images of their faces that came to me that night.
Where is the Lamb of God in your life today? Keep your eyes and ears open. He is here, hoping you’ll recognize him in those around you. He’s here, too, hoping you’ll be helping him today to reach those who need his touch today.
Behold the Lamb of God!