Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

(Acts 11:19-26; John 10:22-33)

The gospel reading today begins by declaring that the Feast of the Dedication was taking place.  The occasion marked the successful Jewish revolt against their Greek overlords.  By Jesus’ time Rome has taken control of Israel.  The Romans may not have been as oppressive as the Greeks, but their occupation was deeply resented.  The desire for a Messiah to lead a new revolt precipitates the demand of Jesus to declare himself.

In all the gospels Jesus alters the role of a Messiah.  He indicates, be it directly or indirectly, that he is not a warrior-Messiah like David.  In the passage at hand, however, he says that he is still like David in another respect.  He is a shepherd who cares for his flock.  He says that he gives those who follow him something greater than political autonomy.  He provides them “eternal life.”  This new way of living with neither bitterness nor regret transcends natural desire.  It belongs exclusively to God.  For this reason Jesus says that he does the work of his Father.

Like the Jews in Jesus’ day, we have to reconsider what we want.  Are we taken up with vindication and domination?   Or do we seek peace through love?  The former qualities belong to the world as we know it.  The latter is the promise of God in Jesus Christ.