May 5, 2009
Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter
John 10: 22-30
The feast of the Dedication was taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter. And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly." Jesus answered them, "I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father's name testify to me. But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. 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."
Introductory Prayer: Father as we celebrate the Resurrection, may we share with each other the joy the risen Christ has won for us. Free me, Lord, of questionings that lead me away from you to a life of cynical discontent. Grant me the faith that helps me accept the answers you give me in prayer.
Petition: Lord, help me to follow you by accepting the cross you want me to carry as a means of purifying my love for you and my neighbor.
1. Questions Born from Below
“How long are you going to keep us in suspense?” Such is the interrogation of the Jews to Christ on this occasion. Their patience is wearing thin and at times our patience with God wears thin as well. At times, God can be for us the answer to all of our problems, with proofs of his love and mercy so clear and evident. We seem to race eagerly down the way of holiness, hurdling with a generous spirit every obstacle that comes along. At other times, we can take on the same attitude as the Jews had in today’s Gospel passage. Why? What happens to us? What Scripture makes clear to us is that at times we have doubts not just because of our inquisitive nature. They can arise because of the obstinacy of our hearts. We want God to bend to our ways. Even when we take it to prayer we may find ourselves getting mad at God because he continues to probe our hearts by withholding from us all the answers. Or worse, we don’t like the answers God gives us in prayer, as when he answers our prayers with "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 Corinthians 12:9). We begin to doubt our Lord because he fails to be for us whatever our selfish whims might dictate. With an attitude such as this, what can God show us if we refuse to see? What can God tell us if we deafen our ears to his pleas?
2. “You Are Not Among My Sheep”
We might think our Lord was being a bit harsh on the Jews in today’s Gospel telling them that they are “not among my sheep.” After all, were they not somewhat excusable in not believing in Christ? Should they not put him to the test as they would anyone else? Or should we believe in everybody who comes along saying that they are from God? The problem wasn’t the fact that the Pharisees hadn’t the right to question those who came along making such claims––for they did in fact have this duty. Rather, the problem was that they refused to believe once the evidence of Christ’s divine nature was made evident by the works he performed. They blocked the gift of faith from taking a foothold in their hearts. “You are not among my sheep.” Perhaps these interrogators were content to be rejected as a part of his flock. We too can find ourselves unrepentantly spurning Christ and his Church. We justify and excuse ourselves from personal reform because we feel others in the Church need to reform themselves to our liking. Do I realize that I must continue to seek and listen to Christ especially in the Scriptures and in the authentic teachings of the Church’s Magisterium? Scripture is very clear; we are among Christ sheep when we listen to Him.
3. "My Sheep Hear My Voice"
I Know Them, and They Follow Me Our Lord not only wants souls to love him, but he wants us to love his Father. Christ’s mission on earth was to bring about the reconciliation of mankind with his heavenly Father. By saving us, Christ returns us to the love we spurned when we preferred sin over the heavenly Father’s will. We can know once again that our Father in heaven is rich in mercy and have confidence to love him anew. Now to love the Father, we must imitate Christ, who once described his own action, attitude and relation to his Father with these words: “The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him” (John 8:29). Our Lord asks us to imitate him, then, in obeying the Father’s will. How the world around us would change and be reconciled with God if we would concentrate on imitating our Master, always doing what is pleasing to the Father!
Conversation with Christ: O Jesus, for love of You I want to do always what pleases the Father. Grant me, oh Lord, the faith I need to recognize that it is you behind every event of my life. You are there as my teacher and guide to lead me home to your Father, to be reconciled with him, to love him with my whole heart, mind, will and strength. Help me not fix my eyes on the suffering I must endure, on this valley of tears I must traverse to be purified of my vanity and self-love. Teach me rather to embrace my cross because it is from you, the source of all love. Teach me time and again that my cross is not to hurt me, but to heal me of such a wretched illness as sin. Lord, shepherd of my soul, consider me a part of your fold. Lead me then to do always what pleases your Father.
Resolution: I will hold back voicing the interior complaints I experience today, offering this effort with an act of love to our Lord in reparation for all the complaints selfish souls will voice against our Lord today.
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