Acts 11:19-26; Ps 87:1-7; Jn10:22-30
Faith in the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ has its historical origins in the revelation of the God of Israel. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob founded his Temple in Jerusalem. His holy presence throughout the exodus and after the destruction of the Temple was manifested and celebrated in the feast of Tabernacles and in the feast of the Dedication. In celebrating these two feasts the Jews sang of the universal motherhood of Zion. All the nations could rejoice because the City of God is a home for all that have faith. This faith and trust, in the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was brought by the persecuted church to the Jews in the Diaspora, yes, even to the Greeks. The Apostles left in Jerusalem sent Barnabas, and he brought Paul to enable them to grow in faith. Though this faith grew in Antioch it was resisted among those who approach Jesus in today’s gospel. Faith alone can inspired the dance of those who know they are at home when they hear the voice of the Good Shepherd.
Saint Barnabas and Saint Paul were responsible for shepherding the new flock of disciples in Antioch. Both men were filled with the Holy Spirit and faith, and they encouraged and instructed the converts from Judaism and paganism. Their faith and courage inspired many to come home to Christ and hear in his voice the true shepherd of their souls. Even as the church in Jerusalem was being dispersed, the shepherd’s voice was gathering new disciples in Antioch. These fresh believers listened so carefully to the voice of the Good Shepherd in the teachings of Barnabas and Paul that they were called Christians. The disciples of the Lord Christ were now known as “little Christs” because they too spoke with his voice and invited others to be at home in the heart of the Good Shepherd, the New Temple of God.
During the feast of Tabernacles Jesus had identified himself as the Good Shepherd, in today’s gospel it’s the feast of the Dedication and still the crowds gather around him to demand that he reveal himself. Jesus answered: “I did tell you, but you do not believe.” Both feasts and both crowds have come to Jerusalem to celebrate the faithful presence of God. Jesus tells them what no prophet has ever said before. The glorious presence of Adonai within his temple and in the history of his people is eclipsed by his presence in me. This revelation of his identity, as simple as it is, cannot be heard without faith. The works, the signs, which the people have witnessed, do not help them to see because you refuse to believe because you are not my sheep. Faith, so available and so accessible, cannot be forced upon anyone. Only those who hear deep within the voice of the Good Shepherd will follow him all the way home to the Father. This Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is the one and only God of Israel who is now present and protecting his people through his Son. They have nothing to fear, no foreign tyrant or domestic traitor can snatch them out of my hand. Jesus with the glorious wounds of his passion and resurrection hold his “little Christs” with the power of God because The Father and I are one. Such a revelation does not provoke us to rip our garments and cry out “blasphemer!” Unfortunately, neither does it inspire us to sing in the festive dance of the Eucharist and cry out “my home is within you.”