The good news in this Sunday’s Gospel according to Mark is that Jesus is the Passover Lamb.  We are all familiar with this term and, if you are like me, we tend to take it for granted and not really pay close attention.  The liturgy uses this specific passage from the Gospel as we celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in order to remind us of the beautiful truth this phrase evokes.  The image of the Passover Lamb is so rich with meaning that it takes us back to the very beginning of God’s covenant of love with His people and, at the same time, literally propels us to the completion of Christ’s mission as he is seated at the right hand of God the Father.  The mass beckons to all of us, as we hear these simple words, to embrace in our minds and hearts the fullness of the mystery of Jesus Christ and His profound sacrificial love for all humanity.  In the Old Testament, the Passover lamb had to be eaten by the people of God, and although we have a new paschal lamb—Jesus Christ himself—we still must literally eat the lamb (Exodus 12:8).  When we sing Lamb of God or Agnus Dei at every mass, we touch this beautiful truth for a moment, as THE LAMB is literally present on the altar in the consecrated bread.

The Gospel challenge for all of us is to truly embrace this profound and beautiful truth of our faith.  It is so easy for all of us to be distracted, take it for granted, and forget that we are encountering the heart of the mystery of what life means.  It represents the most profound revelation of God’s love for humankind and challenges us to grow in our understanding of what His love means.  We are challenged to join our daily sacrifices of love to the ultimate sacrifice of the Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ, who we consume at each Mass.

Let us pray that we can embrace this wondrous gift of our loving God ever more deeply and turn away from the sins that pull us away from the Lamb.

By Bishop Joseph E. Strickland

Bishop Strickland was born the sixth child of Raymond and Monica Strickland in 1958. He grew up near Atlanta, Texas, where the Strickland’s were founding members of St. Catherine of Siena Church. On June 1, 1985, Strickland was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Dallas by Bishop Thomas Tschoepe at St. Monica Catholic Church. Upon the creation of the Diocese of Tyler in 1987, Father Strickland joined the presbyterate of the new diocese and was named the first vocation director in March of 1987 by Bishop Charles Herzig. In August of 1992, he was assigned to study canon law at Catholic University of America. After completing his licentiate (JCL) in canon law in May of 1994, Father Strickland was assigned by Bishop Edmond Carmody as pastor of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Tyler. He was appointed judicial vicar for the diocese in 1995 and was named a Prelate of Honor with the title of Monsignor by Pope John Paul II in 1996. In September of 2012, Pope Benedict XVI named Msgr. Strickland as the fourth Bishop of Tyler. He was consecrated as bishop on November 28, 2012 by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston.