May 10, 2022 (readings)
- Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter
- Nan Balfour
The feast of the Dedication was taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter. And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “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. My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”
Opening Prayer: Jesus, reveal the Father to me. I want to draw closer to you. I know only through you am I able to know the Father. Lead me, Good Shepherd, to our heavenly home.
It Was Winter: “The feast of the Dedication was taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter.” John’s Gospel is rich in providing signs to direct minds and hearts. Every word has meaning. Winter symbolizes many things: cold, waiting, end, death, a precursor to spring and its new life. In these lines of Scripture, “It was winter” means that the long wait for the Messiah was coming to an end. Death would soon be defeated. The winter of Satan’s reign would soon pass into the spring of Jesus’ Kingdom. Those who were not Jesus’ sheep were there to do battle. Those opposed to Jesus gathered around to debate him and cause confusion among the crowds.
And Jesus Walked About: “And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon.” The Portico of Solomon was on the east side of the Temple and offered protection from the cold winds of the desert, once again referencing winter. It was a feast day, so many Jews from distant lands were arriving and Jesus was “walking about” them. Psalm 87, today’s responsorial psalm, encouraged the dispersed Jews of 6 B.C. who were living in foreign lands to remain children of Zion, God’s people. Jesus was doing the same here. We can imagine Jesus walking about looking in the hearts of those who had come from far away, acknowledging their hopes and desires. And none of them realized that their God was looking lovingly upon them first. Where are the areas of waiting in our life? Places of winter cold or death? God is at this moment walking about those places in our souls. Pope Francis offers us this encouragement: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. ‘Dwell’ is the verb […] to signify this reality: It expresses a total sharing, a great intimacy. And this is what God wants: He wants to dwell with us; he wants to dwell in us, not to remain distant.”
But You Do Not Believe: “But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” How hurt Jesus must have felt to be among his own people and not be recognized. Every person desires to be acknowledged, affirmed, and appreciated for who he or she is. Our usual response is to self-protect by putting on masks to hide our vulnerability. Jesus wanted to be known and loved, but his response was completely different. God who is Love remained vulnerable and open. Jesus, which means “God Saves,” continued to seek his lost sheep. Jesus, who is Emmanuel, continued to dwell among them even when they failed to recognize him. When it feels like a long winter has settled in our souls, we remember that we are not alone. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is walking about in us. We welcome him.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, where do I fail to see you? Help me to acknowledge your presence in my life. Help me to see and help me to respond. I want to be found by you, Lord.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will take at least twenty minutes to imagine myself coming into the Temple at the Portico of Solomon. I will look at you and remember that you are already looking at me. I will ask you to walk about with me and bring light and warmth to the cold and dark places in my soul.
For Further Reflection: Contemplate the zeal and confidence of the first disciples of Jesus in today’s first reading: Acts 11:19-26.
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