Then Jesus cried aloud: “Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness. I do not judge anyone who hears my words and does not keep them, for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my word has a judge; on the last day the word that I have spoken will serve as judge, for I have not spoken on my own, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment about what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I speak, therefore, I speak just as the Father has told me.”
The words that Jesus says here are among his final words before he goes to the cross. He has told the people who he is. And he has given them signs to show them that he is who he says he is. But the hearts of the people are hard. They are so sure that they are right — let me repeat this — they are so sure they are right and he is wrong, they decide to kill him because he threatens everything they believe in and hold to be true.
If you think about this, you will realize that murder is in the nature of the hard-hearted. If hard-hearted people disagree with you, they will want to kill you. And if they cannot kill you physically, they will try to destroy you in other ways, because they cannot admit that they might be wrong about what they believe. However, the REAL problem is that they don’t have reasons for their belief. It is blind. Somebody has taught them something and they have bought it, without any understanding of why. So, if they can’t answer you, they will kill you. Easier that way, no?
When I was young, before I moved away from God, I had questions. And I noticed that people became upset, even hostile, when I asked them, because they thought I was challenging them. I wasn’t challenging anybody; I just needed a few answers. Years later, I realized the real reason they got upset was because they didn’t have the answers. By then I was already lost in the wilderness. I don’t want anybody lost because we don’t have answers. The apostle Peter said, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).
This is why I have begun to insist you read the Bible and come to an understanding of the faith for yourself, not simply eat what I (or anybody else) feeds you. I want you to know Jesus. I want you to know what he says. And, when you do, things change. For instance, consider Jesus’ words that we heard a couple of days ago. Our Lord said, “There will be one flock, one shepherd” (John 10:16). If there are so many flocks, and the shepherds are all fighting with each other, there is something wrong, no? What is wrong? What is wrong is that we started to believe the flocks belonged to us!
They don’t. They belong to the Good Shepherd. We were merely caretakers of the flocks on his behalf, but because we started to think they were ours, he’s taken them away. This lock-down is the best thing to happen to the Church, because now nobody has anybody. What flock are we going to guard? Whose flock are we gonna steal? And, hopefully, this lock-down will give us all time to spend with the Good Shepherd, who will teach us a few things that are important for us to learn. And we really, really need to learn. Because very soon there is going to be a whole world looking for answers.
They still haven’t come to their senses, but if my life is any indication, sometimes we need to hit rock bottom before we do. But I have little doubt the world will come to its senses. And we need to be prepared, because people will have questions; questions that need to be answered. Speaking through the prophet Hosea, God exclaims, “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). Christ cries out — literally — as he talks to the people in today’s reading. “I have come to save the world,” he says. “Please don’t be lost!” He makes a final impassioned appeal because he wants everybody to come to the green pastures of life.
I want that too, which is why I cry out today: please come to the pastures. And if you are already there, please get to know the shepherd. His name is Jesus. And he’s calling his flock to be one.
God bless you.