Today’s reading from John’s gospel is about relationship.
Whilst some of the text may seem quite convoluted, other parts are very clear.
The opening is comfortably explicit:
- It is the festival of the Dedication;
- It was winter;
- Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon.
Jesus is also explicit about all that he has done in the name of the Father:
- the miraculous signs;
- the healings and the exorcisms …
all done in the name of, and through the power of God.
Despite some of the apparent complications in this text, Jesus is making a very clear statement … he has already told those around him that he is:
- the Messiah;
- the Son of God;
- that he is one with God;
- that he is the shepherd of the flock.
And the flock itself? The flock of which Jesus speaks consists of those who hear his voice and, then, follow where he leads.
This is all about relationship …
- Jesus knows his flock …
- each and every one of them …
- and not just those around him 2000 years ago … he knows each of us too.
Today’s reading from John’s gospel tells us that the relationship we have with God (through Jesus) is one of love: God’s love for us … and our love for him.
Today we are being asked whether we are ready and willing to follow Christ … no matter where he might lead us.
Following on from last Sunday’s gospel reading, and Jesus’ commissioning of Simon Peter, we are being asked if we are ready and willing to feed Christ’s sheep and to tend Christ’s lambs.
Last week this responsibility was being laid on the shoulders of Simon Peter … this week it is our turn to be asked the same question … are we ready to think of ourselves last, whilst putting others first?
As well as being the Fourth Sunday of Easter, today is also Vocations Sunday.
Vocation is not something that only happens to priests … every one of us is called into God’s service … into a profound and intimate relationship with God.
Vocation is about hearing Christ’s questions about tending and feeding his sheep … and then doing something about it.
As Jesus invites us to reflect upon our relationship with him … and with our neighbours … we are also encouraged to reflect upon how we live out our relationship with God.
By now some of you will be thinking … not about God’s call in your lives … but about far more mundane matters:
- do you have a lunch engagement that is currently pressing hard on your consciousness?
- do you have a journey to make that is causing concern about possible weight of traffic?
- are you expecting guests and are, therefore, really concentrating on cooking times and oven temperatures?
It is so easy for us to give into the temptation of ‘distraction’ … distraction that means ‘running away from God’.
But … despite all of those ‘distractions’ … God still loves us … and God continues to provide for us … no matter how fickle and fleeting we are in our commitment to having a proper relationship with him.
A story you may have heard before:
On the ship’s radio came a voice saying: ‘Change course!’ The response is given: ‘No, I am a battleship. You change course!’
After several exchanges a second voice says: ‘I am the captain of this battleship. I insist you change course!’
The final word comes: ‘No! You change course! I am a lighthouse and you are about to hit the rocks!’
God loves us … God provides for us … God protects us.
God is constantly calling us by name, and yet, so often, we are obstinate in our refusal to hear his call.
There are times when we ignore the beacon of hope and light that is trying to lead us away from physical and spiritual disaster … we are as obstinate and self-obsessed as the battleship captain.
But … be assured that God continues to call us by name … God knows us and wants us to take our place in his flock.
God wants our relationship with him to develop and flourish … but are we listening? … are we hearing? … are we ready to answer his call?
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