Friday Focus: Belonging
(Easter 4: John 10: 22-30)
Just in case you’re still confused about exactly who
Jesus is, he connects all the dots for us in this brief passage from John. His
questioners want to know if he is the Messiah. And Jesus takes their inquiry
and hits it out of the park, telling them: The
Father and I are one. It doesn’t get any more succinct or definitive than
that. Not only is Jesus the promised Messiah, he is God, the Son of the Father,
no less the Deity than the Creator of the universe.
For good measure, he then doubles down on his
promise of eternal life for those who belong
to his flock. In this passage Jesus expands on his earlier metaphor of the
Good Shepherd, making a distinction between those who hear and follow him and those
who reject him. To follow Jesus means more than admiring his virtue and his
wisdom. It means more than acknowledging him as a holy man and a wonder worker.
Being a Christian means accepting a world view that totally revolves around the
risen Jesus, the Divine Son of the Father, the instrument of our salvation.
Beyond that, as described in this week’s gospel, being a Christian means
belonging to Jesus, body and soul. It’s a tall order and seldom achieved in one
What does belonging to Jesus mean? First let’s look
at what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean mechanically checking the boxes of
religious obligation: church on Sunday, check; stewardship, check; don’t rob
any banks, check; don’t murder that annoying guy next door, check. Belonging to
Jesus is not about reluctantly meeting the minimum requirements of membership.
Belonging to Jesus means actively, constantly living in his love. Baptism sets
the table for this feast of love. But we must come to it every day, with clean
hands and clean hearts, hungry for the love of Christ, to sustain and nourish
us in his service. Belonging to Christ is not feast or famine. It is feast and
feast, through all the stages of our lives. It is the joy of discovery in
childhood and youth. It is the growing resolve of virtue in maturity. It is
fulfillment and consolation in declining years. It is the comfort of homecoming
in our final days.
We are made in God’s image for a purpose. Our lives
are to be actively spent in loving God and neighbor. To forget our purpose, to
take it for granted, to file it away as a get-out-of-hell-free card, makes a
mockery of Calvary and squanders our legacy of love. We are his. We belong to
him. And belonging to him sets us free of sin, of fear and of mortality. Every
day, Lord, we are coming closer, home where we belong. Alleluia!