Always order the Lamb of God who takes away sins
Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, "This month shall stand at the head of your calendar; you shall reckon it the first month of the year. Tell the whole community of Israel: On the tenth of this month every one of your families must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household. If a family is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join the nearest household in procuring one and shall share in the lamb in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it. The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish. You may take it from either the sheep or the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present, it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight. They shall take some of its blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb. That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
My father does not say much, but when he does speak, I’ve learned to really pay attention because I usually learn something new every time. Once he said: “Whenever you’re in a restaurant, and lamb is on the menu, always order it.” Perplexed, I asked, “Why, dad?” He answered, “Well, if the chef knows how to prepare lamb, then it is one of the tastiest meats you’ll ever enjoy.” So, whenever I’m in a restaurant and lamb is on the menu, I order it. To paraphrase “the world’s most interesting man” (remember his commercials?), I now say, “I don’t always eat in a restaurant, but when I do, I prefer the lamb. Stay hungry, my friends.” In fact, as a priest, you could say that spiritually-speaking lamb is always “on the menu” here at church. Why? Before Communion, the priest holds the Host high and declares: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.” There is no five-star restaurant in the world that serves a more succulent lamb than a Catholic church, because we serve the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. To eat and enjoy that Lamb, we should always “stay hungry, my friends.” Lamb is always on the menu here at church, the best Lamb in the world.
In the first reading today, God the Father gives Moses the same advice that my father gave me, namely, always eat the lamb. The people of Israel are in exile and slavery in Egypt, and God lays out their exit strategy, how they’ll escape from Egypt. He ordered Moses: “Every one of your families must procure for itself a lamb…then, with the whole assembly of Israel, it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight.” God went on: “They shall take some of its blood and apply it to the doorposts and the lintel of every house in which they partake of the lamb. That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.” In other words, always order the lamb, not just because of its savory flavor, but because it will save you from slavery. For fourteen hundred years the people of Israel kept ordering lamb on the menu until the time of Christ.
And then, there was even better lamb on the menu – and a better chef than Moses - namely, Jesus himself. St. Paul explains to the Corinthians: “The Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it, and said, ‘This is my body that is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me’.” Eating this Lamb (the Body of Christ) was also an “exit strategy,” not so much an exit out of slavery in Egypt, but rather an exit out of slavery in sin (a much more bleak bondage). Ever since, for two thousand years now, Christians have always ordered the Lamb on the menu.
The world’s most interesting man said, “Stay thirsty, my friends,” and he’s right. But we should also “stay hungry, my friends.” Hungry for what? What should we eat when we’re hungry? I suggest that you follow the advice of God the Father and my own father: “Always order the Lamb.” That is, always come to Mass, and partake in the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Only that meal will satisfy your deepest hunger. You know, whenever I receive the Precious Blood from the chalice, I always think of that line from Exodus 12:7, “Take some of [the lamb’s] blood and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel of every house.” The Blood of the Lamb I taste at Mass is applied to my lips, like the doorposts of the house of my soul. If the eyes are the windows of the soul, why can’t the lips be the doorway? And when the angel of death sees the Blood of the Lamb on doorpost of my house, he passes over me and I am saved.
I love to go out to eat at restaurants, but I hate to order off the menu. I usually just look for the picture that looks the most appetizing and order that. That’s not the ideal way to order in a restaurant. Instead, take my father’s advice and “order the lamb” if that happens to be on the menu. That’s also the best way to order when you go to church: “always order the lamb” if it’s on the menu. If the chef knows how to prepare it well, that is the tastiest meat you’ll ever eat.
Praised be Jesus Christ!