John 10:22-30 At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly." Jesus answered, "I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father's hand. The Father and I are one."
Reflection To what shall I dedicate my life? This is a question that has poked and prodded me for decades. This is a question that whispers to me in my dreams and pulls me in and out of relationships. In my most acquisitive phase I must confess that I gave my life in exchange for tokens of security, promises of affection and badges of success. I lived Western culture’s dream, I won and I came out empty handed. Like the stones of the Jews’ first temple, the altars I constructed to my self fell to ruin. Then, like the Jews, I too lived in exile. With a heart full of useless tokens, broken promises and tarnished badges I wandered and wondered, what does it mean to have a dedicated life?
When we dedicate something we set it apart, we consecrate it and make it holy. That’s what the religious Jews did when they rebuilt the destroyed altar to God and then celebrated the festival of the Dedication every year near the winter solstice in Jerusalem. I believe these faithful religious folk quit working too soon. They thought they were finished when the external work of building the temple was complete, when the outward signs of success were assembled. They failed to do the interior work, the work of the world within, the work that happens in the hidden spaciousness of the holiest of holies.
Jesus alone proceeded from the outward and visible signs that pointed to God to being in dedicated relationship with God whom he called Father. Jesus found his source, his origin in relationship with God who is hidden in the holiest of holy interior spaces. I suspect this is the reason he referred to God as Father. Jesus saw that all the outward signs of authority, success or power manifest through him were gifts that were born of his relationship with God. Jesus did not claim the signs of power, authority or success for himself. He attributed all that he did to his unwavering relationship with God whom he called Father.
And this I believe is the secret of a dedicated life. It is a life lived in committed relationship in both the visible and invisible worlds. It is a life understood as finding meaning and purpose in more than itself. It is a life given to do the work of another for another. It is a life in which each is dedicated to the other because all that is good and righteous is born of relationship. It is a life in which the two are one and the one is two.
Paul’s words to the Corinthians come to mind. “Do you know that you are God’s temple and ....God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (3.16-17)