Cling to the Obvious

by Fr. Denis Lemieux

Happy New Year, everyone. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Not far into the year 2020, the Sunday Mass reading begins with this proclamation by John the Baptist.*

This is it, isn’t it? As we begin the new calendar year, the Church wants us to start with, stay with, and finish with, this salient and essential point, the heart of the matter.

That is, Jesus is The One. Jesus is it—the source, the center, the alpha and the omega. The Savior, the Healer, the Lord. No matter what this year of 2020 brings us, no matter what trials and travails afflict us personally or communally, this is the central fact we are to cling to in all situations.

That Jesus is the Central Fact of all facts, the meaning of life, the center of the universe, our whole life, our happiness, our peace, our joy. Ultimately our eternal salvation resides in him and him alone.

Oh, how obvious, you might say. Why belabor the point? The point, I would reply, needs to be belabored. Because we forget it so quickly; we lose it in a flash, a heartbeat.

Whether in the face of some great suffering, or in the endless rush of gaudy stimuli and banal distractions our world is so good at, or in the incessant flow of information through the portals of modern communication technology—Jesus does not remain at the uttermost center of our thoughts and hearts, not all the time, and in fact any one of us (myself included) can lose sight of him for great stretches of time.

And this is tragic, even if it is only for a space of time and not forever. Because we need him. Our world is full of trouble—political instability, “war and rumors of war,” fears of environmental catastrophe. Our Church is full of trouble—well, I’ve covered all that pretty comprehensively in recent issues of Restoration.

And I have no doubt most of you have trouble in your lives, and if not in yours, then in the lives of people you love. I sure do.

It’s so easy, in all that, to let go of Jesus’ hand, like a child in a crowded subway losing the hand of his mother. So easy, in all that, to get caught up in the endless roar of controversy and complaint, in which every word is spoken save the one Word (well, Name, really) that is our peace.

So easy to let fear, anger, or despondency get the best of us, withering the faith, hope, and charity that is ours by baptismal inheritance. So easy to go anywhere and everywhere—to every ideology, to every cause, to every self-help guru, to money, to sex, to booze and drugs, to…. well, anywhere but There. Anyone but Him.

So easy… but the good news is that it is so easy to return to Him. He has made it so. Call upon the name of the Lord – Jesus, mercy! Go to Confession if need be. Go to the Eucharist. He’s made it so easy to go home.

The center of the universe is not light years distant; it is right here, right now, for you, for me, for everyone.

And so the Church gives us John the Baptist, here at the beginning of 2020, with a most simple message. This year, no matter what is happening—in you, around you, in the world, the Church, wherever—behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.

Go to him, and hold fast to him, as he is holding fast to you. All will be well in the end, if we do so.

*January 19th, 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, John 1:29-34.