Jesus and the Father are one. And so are Jesus and his true followers. Needless to say, then, true followers cannot but be one in heart and mind.
One with us in every way, but in sinfulness, the Word made flesh feels the cold of winter. So, he walks about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon. That is how he, along with many others, avoids the cold desert winds.
But Jesus cannot avoid those who earlier sought to stone him, those who did not like that he had said, “Before Abraham came to be, I am.” Now, though, they want him to tell them plainly if he is the Messiah. And they are clearly running out of patience. “How long are you keeping us in suspense?” they ask (literally, “How long will you take away our life?”). Are they perhaps threatening him? After all, they surround the one that they feel is not allowing them to go on with their lives.
But threatening or not, they get more than what they ask for. Jesus does not only answer that he told them already and that his works prove that he is the Messiah. He also explains why they do not believe: they are not among his sheep. And he says additionally:
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 [an alternative translation reads: “As for the Father, what he has given me is greater than all”], and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.
And Jesus’ claim that he and the Father are one leads them to pick up rocks again to stone him.
Of course, no one of us would stone Jesus. But is what he says of his sheep true of us personally?
Am I really one with him in thinking, feeling, seeing, hearing, touching, tasting and smelling? More concretely, do I feel for those who suffer? Am I not, as St. Vincent de Paul puts it (SV.EN XII:222), “a caricature of a Christian?”
Surely, hearing Jesus’ voice entails training. It means asking Jesus often what he would do if he were in my place (SV.EN XI:314).
And oneness with Jesus spells sympathy, compatibility, with him. Etymologically, ‘sympathy,’ ‘compatibility,’ means ‘suffering with.’ So, am I ready to suffer, with Jesus, persecution and great distress? To wash my robe white in, paradoxically, the blood of the Lamb?
Moreover, do I trust the Almighty? And do I give top priority to those whom he has given me to serve?
Lord Jesus, make us one with you and with one another. Never shaming poor people and not letting them go hungry, may we be true partakers of your Supper.
12 May 2019
Fourth Sunday of Easter (C)
Acts 13, 14. 43-52; Rev 7, 9. 14b-17; Jn 10, 27-30