Every Sunday, just before we receive the Eucharist, the priest invites us to “Behold the Lamb of God; behold him who takes away the sin of the world.” He invites us to fix our whole selves on Jesus. He invites us to say, “This Jesus died for every sin that has been committed or will be committed—he died for every sin that I or anyone else will commit.”
Have you ever seen a story on television about a child who walked into the street and was tragically killed by a speeding car? If so, the story probably left you feeling sad for the child and his family, even though you don’t even know them. But everything would be dramatically different if it were your child who was killed by that speeding car. Instead of feeling sad, you would feel crushed. The pain would stretch on for weeks, months, even years. You might never be able to forget the tragedy. This is a good way for us to grasp what it means to “Behold Jesus.”
Beholding Jesus is not just a good thing to do. It’s not just a fleeting moment on Sunday morning in the middle of your busy life. Beholding Jesus involves embracing what Jesus has done for us. It involves remembering what your life would be like without him. Twice in today’s Gospel, John says, “I did not know him” (John 1:31, 33). Still, John was able to recognize Jesus when he arrived. That’s why he said, “Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God” (1:34). The Holy Spirit revealed Jesus to him in a dramatic and deep way, and it changed his life.
A similar thing can happen to us at Mass today. Jesus wants to open our eyes at the “breaking of the bread” so that we might know him more deeply (Luke 24:35). So when you receive Communion today, make it a point to behold Jesus. Then ask him to reveal himself to you.