Homily of the Apostolic Nuncio, Chapel of the Apostolic Nunciature, Sunday 19 January 2020

First Reading: Isaiah 49:3,5-6

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-3

Gospel: John 1:29-34
At the center of today’s Gospel reading there is this message of John the Baptist: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (v. 29). It is a message accompanied by the gaze and the hand gesture that indicate Him, Jesus Christ
We are on the bank of the River Jordan. John is baptizing; there are many people who have come there, to the river, to receive baptism from the hands of the man who reminded many of Elijah, the great Prophet who nine centuries before had purified the Israelites of idolatry and led them back to the true faith in the God.
John preaches that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, that the Messiah is about to reveal himself, and one must convert and act with righteousness; and he begins to baptize in order to give the people a tangible means of repentance. These people came to make penance, to begin their life anew. John knows that the Messiah is now nearby, and the sign to recognize Him will be that the Holy Spirit will descend upon Him. He will bring the baptism in the Holy Spirit.
And thus, Jesus Christ appears on the river bank, in the midst of the people, the sinners — like all of us. It is his first public act when he leaves his home in Nazareth: he goes down into Judea, goes to the Jordan, and is baptized. We know what happens. We celebrated it last Sunday: the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus Christ in the form of a dove and the voice of the Father proclaims him the beloved Son. It is the sign that John has been waiting for. 
It is He! Jesus Christ is the Messiah. John is disconcerted, because He manifests himself in an unimaginable way: in the midst of sinners, baptized with them, or rather, for them. But the Spirit enlightens John and helps him understand that in this way God’s justice is fulfilled, his plan of salvation is fulfilled: Jesus Christ is the Messiah of Israel, not with the power of this world but as the Lamb of God, who takes upon himself and takes away the sins. 
John points Him out to the people and to his disciples. John had a large circle of disciples, who had chosen him as a spiritual guide, and some of them become disciples of Jesus Christ. 
This scene is not an anecdote. It is a decisive historical fact! This scene is decisive for our faith and for the Church’s mission. The Church is called to point Jesus Christ out to the people, saying, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”. He is the One Saviour! He is the Lord, humble, in the midst of sinners, but it is He.
These are the words that we priests repeat during the Mass. This liturgical gesture represents the whole mission of the Church, which she does not proclaim herself. The Church proclaims Jesus Christ; she does not bring herself, she brings Jesus Christ. Because it is Jesus Christ and only Jesus Christ who saves his people from sin, frees them and guides them to land and to true freedom. 
May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Lamb of God, help us to believe in Him and follow Him.