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How Do We Know He's the Messiah?
Daily Gospel Reflection: John 10:22-30
Jewish leadership taught that the Christ would lead the Jewish people to victory over their enemies. The Romans were occupiers and rulers of their land; it was natural for the Jewish people to assume the Romans as their greatest enemies at that time. Yet when questioned, this miracle-worker and charismatic preacher refused to call himself the Messiah before Jewish authorities, the ones to whom their tradition was entrusted. When asked, Jesus responded with an elusive answer:
The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me. 10:25
What he seems to be challenging in these Jewish authorities is whether they have an intimate knowledge of what Jesus has been doing (“The works I do…”) as well as the characteristics of the Father (“…in my Father’s name”). Why? Because the congruence between the two are the testimony to who Jesus is. But they refused to believe, he says, because they are not among his sheep. How is it that some Jewish people are not among Jesus’ flock?
Pope Benedict XVI points us to the end of John’s Gospel for insight, when Jesus takes Peter aside and asks him thrice: “Do you love me?” (John 21:15-19).1
This is the basis of what it means to be a part of the Good Shepherd’s flock: do we love Jesus? If the answer is ‘yes,’ we enter the Gate of the sheepfold, that is, through Jesus, and become a part of his flock. Those who were questioning him, asking for his definitive answer about whether he was the Messiah or not, did not love him. They were not his sheep and so they did not know the Shepherd.
My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 10:27
Jesus’ flock knows the works of their Shepherd; they were given the grace to believe (perhaps not fully yet, but as a seed) that what the Father wills and what Jesus accomplishes are one and the same. From here, it was not far for them to become the community that proclaims that Jesus and the Father are one (cf. 10:30).
Where does that put us? While we may indeed be a part of the flock, are we helping those outside the flock to get to know Jesus and love him? How are we inviting others to Jesus, for he says, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd” (10:16). We are not only his sheep, but also commissioned to be like him, the Shepherd (Mt. 28:19-20).
We are called to be one flock under one Shepherd through him, with him, and in him, so let us joyfully share our love for Jesus with others so that they too might fall in love with him.
Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, trans. Adrian J. Walker (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2007), 276-277.