Homily for April 19th, 2016: John 10:22-30.
A careful reading of the gospels shows us that Jesus was very guarded about revealing his true identity. Pressed in today’s gospel to say whether he is God’s long awaited Messiah (“the Christ” in English) he replies: “I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me.” What works is Jesus referring to?
First on any list would be his miracles: the healings he performed, the stilling of the storm on the lake, the raising of the widow’s son at Naim and of Jesus’ friend Lazarus. Jesus also fed the hungry: the vast crowd in the wilderness, his twelve apostles at the Last Supper. After his resurrection Jesus prepared a lakeside breakfast for Peter, James, and
John, tired and hungry
from a night of fruitless fishing with the net coming back empty time after
time until a man on shore, still unrecognized, calls out, “Cast the net on the
right side” — and they feel the net heavy with fish, and “the disciple whom
Jesus loved” calls out excitedly: “It is the Lord.” Jesus’ works also include
his beautiful stories — the parables —
and all his teaching about the love of God, his heavenly Father: the love that
will never let us go.
These works say nothing to you, Jesus tells his questioners in today’s gospel, because “you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice; I know them and they follow me.” What does it take to be among Jesus’ sheep? The first requirement is openness: willingness to learn, not just once, but all our lives long. People who think they know it all already, that they have nothing more to learn after their formal education is finished, cannot be among Jesus’ sheep. “My sheep hear my voice,” Jesus says. That requires listening, all our lives long. Our education is never finished as long as life lasts.
To those who come to him not as skeptics, saying ‘show me,’ but in a spirit of openness Jesus gives the greatest of all gifts: eternal life. “No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”
That too is the gospel. That is the Good News.