Jesus was walking the Porch of Judgment during the winter feast of Hanukkah – the place where people came to seek justice and the judgment of the king. They questioned him as to who he really was and demanded that he speak to them plainly. They wanted proof that he was who he said he was before they were ready to go the next step... whatever that might mean.
“I have told you and you do not believe in me,” retorts Jesus; “the signs I do in my Father’s name speak for me but you do not believe me because you are not my sheep.”
This is an interesting Sunday in that we concentrate on God as Shepherd. It is an interesting Sunday because we are again challenged by Christ to ask ourselves: do we hear him and his voice and follow him or do we only listen to and deluded ourselves with the sound of our own voices?
It is one of the struggles the Church must face from time to time – whose voice are we really listening to? The Master’s voice or our own? I have had to wait and be patient to know that I was listening and doing with my life what the Lord wanted me to do. I have encountered Christians who would, because of who they are as people, have turned me off of Church and all the other good things I have in my life precisely because they had their own form of life and righteousness. Supposedly, they had it together and they were the right kind of person and more so the right kind of Christian.
Over the years, the people who have taught me, who have helped me to hear the Lord’s voice in my life and in my heart, are people who have constantly and consistently reminded me that if I cannot hear Christ, you will not follow him. If you don’t follow him you will not leads others to him and for him. Those people on the portico with Jesus wanted to judge Jesus to see if he was a king worth following and dying for. This is not the Christian way of life. Jesus died for us that we might live with him. Therefore we need to commit to not only saying that we believe in God. We need to actively and physically participate in all that he is calling us to. Part and parcel of that life is to be a member of the Body which is the Church.
We need each other that we might discern the face and the voice of the risen Christ in one another. This helps us to see Jesus in the faces of people in the wider community where he might be harder to spot. When we fail to look for Christ in our companions, in those who are not part of the Church, we will most assuredly miss seeing him at work within ourselves. Seeing Christ at work is only the beginning of faith. Having sought him and saw what he is doing, we then must be compelled to do the same that we might remain with him. After all, our society and culture keep telling us that seeing is believing. It is even truer that they will continue to live it when they themselves have done it.
It is time beloved to move beyond the comfortable pew and into those places and spaces that God calls us to serve as individuals and as community. How will anyone else hear his voice and see his face if we have not experienced God within first?