1) OPENING PRAYER
Lord God, our Father,
the Spirit of Jesus calls us, as he called your Son,
to abandon our old selves and our old world
to be free for new life and growth.
Forgive us our fear and hesitations,
lead us out of our worn-out phrases and habits,
and our self-made certainties,
steep us in the gospel of your Son,
that his good news may become credible
in our times and our world.
We ask you this through Christ our Lord.
2) GOSPEL READING - JOHN 10,22-30
It was the time of the feast of Dedication in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the Temple walking up and down in the Portico of Solomon. The Jews gathered round him and said, 'How much longer are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us openly.'
Jesus replied: I have told you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father's name are my witness; but you do not believe, because you are no sheep of mine. The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life; they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from my hand. The Father, for what he has given me, is greater than anyone, and no one can steal anything from the Father's hand. The Father and I are one.
• Chapters one to twelve of the Gospel of John are called “The Book of Signs”. In these chapters we have the progressive revelation of the Mystery of God in Jesus. In the measure in which Jesus makes this revelation, adherence and opposition grow around him according to the vision or idea which each one has of the coming of the Messiah. This way of describing the activity of Jesus does not only serve to inform how adherence to Jesus took place at that time, but also and above all, how this should take place in us today, his readers. At that time, all expected the coming of the Messiah and they had their criteria of how to recognize him. They wanted him to be like they imagined that he should be. But Jesus does not submit himself to that requirement. He reveals the Father as the Father is and not as his listeners would want him to be. He asks for conversion in the way of thinking and of acting. Today, also, each one of us has his/her own likes and own preferences. Some times we read the Gospel to see if we find in it a confirmation of our desires. Today’s Gospel presents some light concerning this.
• John 10, 22-24: The Jews question Jesus. It was cold; it was the month of October. It was the Feast of the dedication which celebrated the purification of the temple done by Judah Maccabee (2 M 4, 36.59). It was a very popular Feast with much light. Jesus was out on the square of the Temple, in the Portico of Solomon. The Jews said: "How much longer are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us openly”. They wanted Jesus to define himself and that they could verify, according to their own criteria, if Jesus was or was not the Messiah. They wanted some proofs. It is the attitude of the one who feels that he dominates the situation. The new ones must present their credentials. Otherwise, they have no right to speak or to act.
• John 10, 25-26: Response of Jesus: the works that I do are my witness. The response of Jesus is always the same: “I have told you, but you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name are my witness; but you do not believe, because you are no sheep of mine”. It is not a question of giving proofs. It would be useless. When a person does not want to accept the witness of some one, there is no proof which is valid and which will lead the person to change and think differently. The basic problem is the disinterested openness of the person toward God and toward truth. Where this openness exists, Jesus is recognized by his sheep. “The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice”. Jesus will say these words before Pilate (Jn 18, 37). The Pharisees lacked this openness.
• John 10, 27-28: My sheep listen to my voice. Jesus repeats the parable of the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep and they know him. This mutual understanding – between Jesus who comes in the name of the Father and the persons who open themselves to truth – is the source of eternal life. This union between the Creator and the creature through Jesus exceeds every threat of death: “They will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from my hand!” They are safe and secure and, because of this, they are in peace and enjoy full freedom.
• John 10, 29-30: The Father and I are one. These two verses refer to the mystery of the union between Jesus and the Father: “The Father, for what he has given me, is greater than anyone, and no one can steal anything from my Father’s hand. The Father and I are one”. These and other phrases make us guess or have a glimpse at something of the greatest mystery: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14, 9). “The Father is in me and I am in the Father” (Jn 10, 38). This union between Jesus and the Father is not something automatic, but rather it is the fruit of obedience: “I always do what pleases my Father” (Jn 8, 29; 6, 38; 17, 4). “My food is to do the will of the Father” (Jn 4, 34; 5, 30). The Letter to the Hebrews says that Jesus learnt obedience from the things that he suffered (Heb 5, 8). “He was obedient until death and death on the Cross” (Ph 2, 8). The obedience of Jesus is not a disciplinary one, but rather it was prophetic. He obeys in order to be total transparency and, thus, to be the revelation of the Father. Because of this, he could say: “The Father and I are one!” It was a long process of obedience and of incarnation which lasted 33 years. It began with Mary’s YES (Lk 1, 38) and ended with: “It is all fulfilled!” (Jn 19, 30).
4) PERSONAL QUESTIONS
• Is my obedience to God, disciplinary or prophetic? Do I reveal something of God or am I only concerned about my own salvation?
• Jesus does not submit himself to the exigencies of those who want to verify if he is the Messiah. In me, is there something of this attitude of dominion and of inquiry of the enemies of Jesus?
5) CONCLUDING PRAYER
May God show kindness and bless us,
and make his face shine on us.
Then the earth will acknowledge your ways,
and all nations your power to save. (Ps 67,2-3)