John 10:11-18 Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 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. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”
Reflection When we listen carefully to Jesus’ words, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the father knows me and I know the father. I lay down my life for the sheep,” we hear him making a three part declaration. The first part of his declaration is; I am the good shepherd. Jesus knows who he is. Second part; Jesus acknowledges the mutual connection of his relationship with those whom he knows and who know him as well as the mutuality of his relationship with God. So the second part of Jesus’ declaration is about connection and belonging. The third part of Jesus’ declaration is about personal responsibility, “I lay down my life for the sheep.” Jesus’ life is not only for him self, it is also for others. He holds his individual life lightly, he does not cling to it.
When we know who we are and claim the mutuality of our relationships in community and in God, we naturally take responsibility for the care of one another, even though this is risky business, even though it may cost us our life as we know it.
If life is all about me then every one else and everything else is a potential obstacle or problem and it is no wonder we live in a chronic state of anxiety and defensiveness. Viewing the world from this perspective, connection, belonging and community fail. Rather than stand in the way of an active shooter we stand in fear and fail to enter a school to protect endangered children. We spend $16.8 trillion dollars to bail out big banks insuring their CEOs receive their bonuses and fail to feed the 49 million Americans who lack the means to get enough nutritious food each day.* When we view the world exclusively from the ‘its all about me” perspective we fail to show up, connect and take responsibility for our community.The result of doing this, God’s kingdom is not come because God’s kingdom requires all of us in our conjoined humanity.
What then is the solution? We must join Jesus in making our own three part declaration; claiming who we are, acknowledging our connection and belonging, and taking personal responsibility for the good of one another. Here is my declaration.
I am here. I am wholly present. The actions you can count on me for are creating opportunities for you to be here too. I will notice and affirm God’s presence in and of, with and for you. The difference I now see I can make is making God’s Presence known, making God’s kingdom come. Will you join me in my possibility? Will you join me in taking the risk to stand up for connection, belonging and community? Will you join me in making God’s kingdom come?
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