May 12, 2019
Third Sunday of Easter
ACTS 13:14, 43-52 PS 100:1-2, 3, 5 REV 7:9, 14B-17 JN 10:27-30
Today’s Gospel recounts Jesus telling the Jews and his disciples that he the shepherd, who knows every one of his sheep. Which is pretty remarkable when you consider the size of the flock, right?
So what does it mean to be a member of Jesus’ flock? What are the requirements? I think there are three, which today’s Gospel reveals:
- Believe in Him. Jesus says to the Jews, in the verses preceding today’s Godpel: “I told you, and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me. But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep.” Believing in Jesus makes us members of His flock. It’s not a superfluous belief, as in ‘Yeah, I believe that Jesus existed and said some good things, yada yada yada’, but a belief rooted in our soul, in which our actions and words testify to that belief. If we believe he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, then we are members of his flock.
- Listen to Him. Who are we listening to in our lives: the world or the Good Shepherd? Jesus has the words of eternal life. He is Truth incarnate. If we’re putting more stock in the pundits, politicians, and pop culture personalities, then we’re members of a different flock. A flock headed over a cliff. Jesus won’t steer us wrong, he won’t tell us what we want to hear, and he won’t sell us a bill of goods. He keeps us from harm and beats away the wolves.
- Follow him. Jesus has one mission: if we follow Him, and do the will of his Father, he will lead us to Heaven. His Father’s will is this: “Love God with your whole heart, mind, and soul; and love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s that simple – and that difficult (if it were easy, everybody would be doing it). Satan and the powers of evil want to wrest you from his flock, but “no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.”
Which leads us to free will. The only person in heaven and on Earth who can remove us from Jesus’ flock is ourself. We have the choice to stay, or the choice to leave. If we remember, though, that nothing in this life is worth sacrificing eternal life over – no sin, no worldly glory, no temporary pleasure, no financial gain – if we remember that, and rely on God’s abundant graces, then we will choose to stay in the flock. Even the persecutions that come with following Jesus are worth eternal life. In fact, the persecutions – small or big or in between – are part of the package deal.
Being in the flock also means we are members of a community. We aren’t alone in this. We are saved as individuals, but we are not saved alone. We have the help and aid of fellow believers, the angels, and the entire community of saints in Heaven.
Believe Him. Listen to Him. Follow Him. Stay with the Shepherd. Stay in the flock, no matter what.