Homily for May 9, 2017
Our reflection on Jesus, the Good shepherd which we began on Sunday continues today. In yesterday’s Gospel passage, the emphasis of Jesus was on the sacrificial aspect of his role as a Good Shepherd; the fact that he is one who lays down his life for the good of the sheep.
Today, the emphasis of Jesus is the fact that his sheep enjoy a special protection from him so much so that no one can ever steal or snatch them from his hands. “My sheep hear my voice … and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.”
If indeed we are among the sheep of Jesus, we dare not panic about anything nor fear anyone. The sheep of Jesus do not go about with charms and amulets, they don’t jump from church to church, prophet to prophet or pastor to pastor seeking for protection because they know they have it already.
As Jesus himself clarifies, not everyone is his sheep. The Jews who came to meet him in the temple area asking him whether or not he is the Christ were clearly not among his sheep. Why? Because they did not believe!
And so, even though Jesus had said it over and over again that he is the Christ, they still came back to ask him like a student in the classroom who is purposely asking frustrating questions from his teacher just to put him off. There was nothing Jesus would say that would convince them; they just did not believe.
And Jesus does not force them to believe. He knew their refusal to believe was because they did not belong to this sheep. “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep.”
In other words, whoever does not believe, does not belong. Simple. Of course, not everyone believes in Jesus even today. Even amongst those of us who go to church every day, not all of us really believe in Jesus. I guess you may have heard the saying: “na prayer I go chop” meaning “prayer is useless to me.”
No wonder you see Christians who tell lies, steal, cheat and kill, Christians who belong to secret cults, Christians who sell their bodies for money etc. All these are because such Christians do not believe that Jesus is capable of providing for them. So they are helping themselves out; they are playing god unto themselves.
To believe in Jesus is not merely a matter of singing and dancing to worship songs, it is far deeper than that. The Jews to whom the message of salvation was initially preached to did not believe but thank God for the persecution, it paved way for the spread of the Gospel to other lands and the Gentiles who knew nothing about Abraham, Moses or Elijah came to believe the message.
To believe in Jesus is a matter of wholehearted commitment. You cannot believe and still remain in your old ways. Faith brings about conversion. When the word went out that Gentiles were beginning to believe, it came as a surprise to the Apostles and Barnabas was sent to check. He too was taken aback, he had to involve Saul who had now converted to the faith to join in the harvest of souls.
And guess what, the term “Christian” came into existence as a word to describe the Gentile community who because they believed starting living a new kind of life.
If I don’t believe in Jesus, if I don’t believe in his protection, if I try to seek my own protection or help myself by going against his commands, then I am not his sheep and in fact, I am not a Christian.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, my shepherd, deepen my faith in your protection. Amen
*Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Tuesday of the 4th Week of Easter. Bible Study: Acts 11:19-26 and John 10:22-30).*