The Good Shepherd
A recent gospel reading we had was from John 10. In this encounter, Jesus draws a comparison between himself (the good shepherd) and the false teachers of the day (thieves, bandits, and hired hands). What stands out about this comparison is the way Jesus is so personally attached to his flock. They know him, recognize his voice, and willingly follow him because they associate that voice with safety and comfort. Jesus proclaims how personally invested he is in these relationships by declaring that what makes him significant is his willingness to lay down his life for us – his sheep.
Two things stand out to me as I read this homily or illustration by Jesus.
1. We already can hear and recognize the voice of Jesus. God is already speaking to us. Our biggest obstacle is that we have we have too much noise (other voices) that drown out God’s voice.
2. Following the voice of Jesus will transform us and allow us to have life abundantly, a life where we love deeply.
In fact, the most exciting words that Jesus proclaims might be “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Think about what it means to have life abundantly. In American culture it would probably refer to the person who has the most wealth and can afford to live in extravagant ways. But notice that Jesus said, “have life abundantly,” not to live abundantly. What does it look like to have more life than we need? Again, I think it is a mistake to think this means good health. Instead, I believe that Jesus is referring to the essence of life – love. Jesus came so that we could have more of what it means to be truly living –to have the ability to love. In context then, Jesus is trying to inform everyone that following his voice will transform us and allow us to have life abundantly, a life where we love deeply. The biggest challenge that we might face is quieting the noise that surrounds us so that we can actually hear the voice of Jesus.
In the end, isn’t this why we celebrate Easter? So that we can truly live? Unfettered from the requirements and expectations of this world? Resurrection power is all about freeing us to that we can live this kind of abundant life. Join us this Sunday as we continue to learn how the Easter miracle brings hope alive in our lives.