THE FEAST OF THE DEDICATION
A FAILED MESSIAH
|Triumph of Judas Macchabeus -Rubens|
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.’ (John 10:22-30)
MESSIAH ON WHOSE TERMS?
|Good Shepherd - Murillo|
The lesson for me was that I can’t have Jesus the Messiah on my own terms; I have to accept him as my Lord and Savior on his terms or not at all. He reiterates “his terms” over and over in the gospels in lots of different ways, but during the Easter season I think of the connection between suffering and redemption, between death and resurrection. "Unless the grain of what fall to the ground and die, it remains just a grain of wheat" (Jn. 12:24). When I get angry at God because things are not going according to my plan, or when I start to lose confidence in Jesus’s promise to be with me always, that’s like looking for a different Messiah. It's as if I'm saying to myself "Jesus hasn’t delivered, so maybe I should look for someone with more of a 'Judah the Hammer' approach. Yeah! That sounds good. I’d rather be a hammer anyway. Especially in this world, you have to be practical, realistic. Jesus the Gentle Shepherd just doesn’t make it any more."
Maybe that’s why Jesus chose the feast of the Dedication to teach his followers that he intended to be the Good Shepherd Messiah. During this paschal season I have to ask for the courage to trust that even when things are going badly, especially when my plans and my hopes are going up in smoke, that Jesus’s approach to being a messiah actually works in the end. I need to trust what the Shepherd says in that gospel passage about his relationship with his sheep: "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish."