I’m sorry for the lateness of this posting. Life had some other plans for me these past few days….reyanna
•Acts 13:14, 43-52 • Revelation 7:9, 14b-17 • John 10:22-30•
Weekly Scripture Readings: Fourth Sunday of Easter
To print a PDF of the homily click HERE
Christ is risen! Truly he is risen!! Before trying to break open today’s gospel text I suggest a need for caution. The gospel readings of Easter can be deceptive. In the gospel of John all the events we identify as Holy Week/Easter begin in chapter 13 and continue on through the gospel’s epilogue. Today our lectionary interrupts the sequence and turns the pages of John’s gospel back to a pre-resurrection text — chapter 10.
The author situates the conversation recorded in today’s gospel in Jerusalem during winter — the feast of Hanukkah. It was not the religious authorities but the people who were demanding that Jesus tell them clearly whether or not he was the Messiah.
They did not get what they asked for. Rather then engaging in a narrow theological debate about his identity, Jesus pointed out that he did the works of God. While emphasizing that he was continuing God’s creative work, he turned the focus of his response from himself to those listening to him.
“I told you, but you don’t believe.” “You’re not my sheep.” Because we are city dwellers, most of us do not easily understand what he is implying. With this image the Risen One is reminding us that once the sheep learn to recognize the voice of their shepherd, they will follow no one else.
“My sheep hear my voice!” Since Jesus shifted the focus from himself to those listening to him, and we are among those listening to him, what does this text say to us and about us? We proclaim Christ is risen! Truly he is risen!! but that is not what makes us his companions or disciples. Jesus gives us a simple definition of Christian discipleship. “My sheep hear my voice!” A recent justice on the United States Supreme Court proudly claimed to be “Catholic” but never hesitated to support the death penalty. That simple sentence is very important — “My sheep hear my voice!”
Jesus lived, taught, and healed folks in the villages of Galilee and in Jerusalem. He was aware something new was emerging in the world. He called it “the Reign of God.” He consciously accepted the energy of the Gracious Mystery we name God and gave expression to that energy in loving each person he met.
Obviously life in Galilee was far simpler than life today. Neither Jesus nor his peers were burdened by hi-tech devices and the copious amounts of information available in our wired world. His life was much like our own, even though very different.
Multi-tasking, multi-media and multiple choices produce copious amounts of information and our emails can seem endless. A maze of distractions can leave us feeling very fragmented. Even though life was far simpler then, Jesus and his peers were just as human as we. Life was simpler for them, but still filled with distractions.
“My sheep hear my voice!” Those who hear his voice gradually “put on the mind of Christ.” Putting on the mind of Christ means having the inner discipline to resist the many distractions claiming our attention. It means “living with a new level of consciousness, a deep awareness of oneness with God and neighbor, and a consciousness of belonging to a whole.” It means breaking through our false ego that fosters narcissism. It means living in such a manner that we become co-creators with God, bringing forth the new reality that Jesus called “the Reign of God.”
To encourage you in your determination to hear his voice and to “put on the mind of Christ,” I again recall the wonderful short story, “The Little Prince.” In it the fox reminded the little prince: “it is only with the heart that one can see rightly … what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
“My sheep hear my voice!” Those who do so, “put on the mind of Christ” and by their actions proclaim that Christ is risen! Truly he is risen!!