John 10: 27–30
Jesus and his disciples were celebrating Hanukkah just then in Jerusalem. It was winter. Jesus was strolling in the Temple across Solomon’s Porch. The Jews, circling him, said, “How long are you going to keep us guessing? If you’re the Messiah, tell us straight out.”
Jesus answered, “I told you, but you don’t believe. Everything I have done has been authorised by my Father, actions that speak louder than words. You don’t believe because you’re not my sheep.
My sheep recognise my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them real and eternal life. They are protected from the Destroyer for good. No one can steal them from out of my hand. The Father who put them under my care is so much greater than the Destroyer and Thief. No one could ever get them away from him. I and the Father are one heart and mind.”
Philosophers and scientists of the Enlightenment were enthralled with Reason. They looked at the universe and saw logic and law, and they likened God to an expert watchmaker. He had created a Rolex of a universe and was now contentedly allowing his creation to run its course. The perfect and implacable laws of physics had freed him from the cares of creation — a visit to his celestial office would reveal a vacationing God “gone fishing.” This deistic notion of God is not the God we worship. Our God is an ever-present God, intimately concerned about his children. He has not forgotten about the world. He is not far away. He became man and even when his time came to leave this world, he devised a way to remain with us. Could God get any closer than being truly present within us through the Eucharist? He shows infinite intensity in the focus of his love. Anyone who threatens the sheep of this loving God does so at his own risk: “No one can take them out of the Father’s hand!”
If Jesus is the Shepherd unlike any human shepherd, we should be sheep unlike any typical wool-covered mammals. Their ardour for the next tuft of grass is such that the voice of the shepherd hardly suffices to keep them in the flock. Barking dogs are an essential element to good flock maintenance. But Christ’s sheep don’t need that kind of coercion. In prayer we “hear [his] voice.” May we never tire of belonging to the blessed flock of Christ! May we always listen and heed his voice.