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Diocese of Covington - Messenger at 1125 Madison Ave., Covington, KY 41011 US - Ecce Agnus Dei (The Lamb of God)

Ecce Agnus Dei (The Lamb of God)

This article is one in a weekly series offering insight to the theology of the Mass and the new translation of the Roman Missal. The articles prepare us for the use of the new Roman Missal at Mass beginning Nov. 27, 2011, the first Sunday of Advent. The articles are provided by the diocesan Office of Worship and Liturgy and written by Father Daniel Schomaker, assistant director. (Note: Words in bold indicate the new translation.)

 

Priest/People:   Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

                          Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

                          Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.

 

Priest:                Behold the Lamb of God,
behold him who takes away
the sins of the world.
Blessed are those called
to the supper of the Lamb.

 

Priest/People:    Lord, I am not worthy
that you should enter under my roof,
but only say the word
and my soul shall be healed.

 

Ecce Agnus Dei (The Lamb of God)

 

When we gather together as one body to celebrate the Sacred Mysteries in the Liturgy of the Church, we are constantly reminded that the Liturgy is not of human making — it is of divine institution. At the Last Supper, where the Lord established the Eucharist and the Ministerial Priesthood, Jesus commanded the apostles to “do this in remembrance of me.” (see Lk 22:19) And so the Church from her infancy has always devoted Herself “to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.” (Acts 2:46)

 

Taking a closer look at the Liturgy, we see that it is infused with the Sacred Scriptures; one could rightly say that the Scriptures are its building blocks. This is particularly true in the section of the Mass known as the Fractioning Rite or the Ecce Agnus Dei (The Lamb of God). St. John, while he was exiled to the island of Patmos for his witness to the Lord Jesus, was given a great grace by the Lord — a vision of the Heavenly City. His vision, handed down to us in the Book of Revelation, speaks clearly of the Lamb who stands, as if slain, in the presence of the Heavenly Throne, where those in His presence fall down and proclaim, “You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power … For you were slain; with your own blood you purchased for God men of every race and tongue, of every people and nation.” (Rev. 4:11; 5:9)

 

The Jews used to offer the blood of animals, and particularly an unblemished lamb on the Feast of Passover, in the temple as recompense for sin. Jesus Christ has redeemed the world with the sacrifice of his own blood – he is the holy and pure sacrificial lamb for all eternity. No longer is the blood of animals needed to make reparation for sin. The blood of the Son of God has washed us clean. Yet knowing that we are still sinners and unworthy to receive the gift of God Himself in the Eucharist, we as one united body proclaim, “Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.” So important is this recognition of Jesus’ sacrifice for the sins of the world, once and for all, that we repeat this prayer three times focusing our mind on our redemption and on God’s great and eternal mercy and peace.

 

And as the faithful fall to their knees in adoration, the priest shows the Blessed Sacrament again, while he echoes the words of John the Baptist and the Book of Revelation by saying, “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” (Jn 1:29; Rev 19:9) The words of the revised translation of the 3rd Edition of the Roman Missal draw out the reality that what appears to be a piece of bread, is in reality the Lamb of God — Jesus Himself!

 

Then, in humble supplication the priest together with the faithful echo the words of the centurion in St. Luke’s Gospel, who recognizing his own unworthiness, dared not to ask the Lord to enter his home, but to speak a word and heal his servant: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” (Lk 7:6-7) This is a final recognition before we receive Holy Communion — He is God and we are not.

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