“Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World.” 

This quote from the Gospel of John (1:29-34) on the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time is a statement of recognition and a welcoming of the Messiah. When Jesus approached John the Baptist at the Jordan, those words of recognition and welcoming reveal that John the Baptist accepted his call to participate in God’s plan of Salvation. In his recognition of Jesus as Messiah, he recalls the words the prophet Isaiah spoke to help us recognize the Messiah. We hear these words in the First reading, “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6) 

Isaiah 49 is the second of four suffering servant songs. The Suffering Servant will be revealed as the Messiah. This Servant will set those who believe apart by sanctification through the waters of baptism. As we heard last week in the readings from the Baptism of the Lord, we are baptized into the Blood of the Cross and our sin is taken away by this vicarious act on the part of the suffering servant. John the Baptist’s words from the Gospel and Isaiah’s prophecy reveal what the Messiah will do for humanity and these words also reveal what we are called to do for one another as the faithful.  

St. Paul wants to teach the young and fledgling Church in Corinth that they have been called by Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit in the waters of baptism to be set apart by Christ; to be God’s own people. In being set apart, they are in no way to separate themselves from the world. They are to be in the world but not of the world. 

In his opening address to the Church in Corinth, Paul identifies his mission which has been given to him by Jesus Christ and in turn he is to proclaim that mission so that the Church in Corinth and the world will then understand their mission. “Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, to the church of God that is in Corinth, to you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy.” (1 Cor. 1-2) 

Paul’s purpose for writing the letter to the Church in Corinth was to address issues that had come to divide the community. The issues revolved around immorality, dissent from Church teachings and factional divisions which caused rifts in the community. Paul decided to address these issues not by condemning the community but rather he is exhorting the community to live out their lives in holiness. Paul refers to their sanctification in Christ Jesus. The act of sanctification Paul is referring to is, baptism. 

 Just as John the Baptist revealed in his statement of recognition that Jesus was the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world, Paul is reminding the Corinthian Church that they are the recipients of the Lamb of God’s suffering on the cross which takes away our sin and in which we are baptized into. 

Paul tells the Church of Corinth they are called to be holy. They are to respond to the call to holiness by not only proclaiming Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, but they must also live it out in their daily lives in their community of faith and the world. They are to overcome immorality in their lives and strive to assent to the teachings of the Church no matter how difficult those teaching may be for them to faithfully live out. 

By recognizing they are called to live moral and just lives, Paul then implies that the Body of Christ must be one and never allow divisiveness and factionalism to take hold. What he implies in his opening address to his letter, he will explain in detail in the body of the letter. Paul wants the Church in Corinth and us today to recognize in ourselves that we are to be Christ for one another, he exhorts us to this life of holiness and we are called to assent by proclaiming the words of Responsorial Psalm 40, “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.”