May 5, 2020
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 Christ, 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.”
It’s great to be able to look out at all your half faces. Corona is tough. If you’ve been paying attention you know what last Sunday was. Right, Good Shepherd Sunday and we are continuing with that theme this week. Yesterday, Fr Pat spoke of the Sheep and today both readings point to the Shepherd.
Today’s Gospel is another round of the same Jews who cannot get out of their heads and into their hearts.
Today, they find Jesus in the Portico of Solomon at the celebration of the Dedication of the Temple. This celebration commemorates the dedication after the desecration by Antiochas Epiphanes, a Syrian placed in charge of Jerusalem after they had subdued the Jews about 150 years before Jesus is born. They catch Jesus as he’s going into the Temple, and ask him when he’s going to just plainly say that he’s the Christ.
Jesus knows now they are trying to trap him, and he seems, at least by his answer, to be a little upset.
He continues to speak allegorically – about the Shepherd and His Sheep. He continues saying how his sheep know him and the sound of his voice, that they will follow only him because he knows them, and they know him.
He also says they will not be stolen from him, if they are truly his sheep. Alluding to those who are pretending to follow him while trying to find information to condemn or discredit him.
But his sheep – those who know his voice – are safe because no one is more powerful than God the Father and that he and God are one.
In the reading from Acts today (ACTS 11:19-26), we hear how there are some people, who are not Apostles, preaching in the name of Jesus, in Antioch.
The concern, as we have been hearing all week, is that they will be trying to steal the sheep from the sheepfold. They may be trying to lead them astray.
Barnabas is dispatched to see what’s happening, and when hears them preach, he knows it is the Holy Spirit. They are gathering more sheep into the fold. Barnabas praises their work – putting the stamp of approval of the Apostles, on what they are doing.
Barnabas then goes to Tarsus, home of Saul, now Paul, and brings Paul with him to Antioch. For a year they stay and teach these new disciples the ways of Christ, and they bring many more into the fold.
Here they become known for the first time as Christians.
If you truly believe – you hear with your heart – then nothing can shake your Faith because your Faith is of God.
At least that’s what I heard Him say…