Readings: Acts 11:19–26; Psalm 87:1b–7; John 10:22–30.
In today’s Gospel the Jews show they still have a lot of preconceived notions about how the Messiah (Christ, “the anointed one”) should act and how he should accomplish his mission. At the time of Jesus the expectation was that the Christ would be a strong political leader, a king who would drive out the Romans, conquer the enemies of Israel, and establish a lasting kingdom and dynasty. The First Reading reminds us that even the disciples themselves moved in Jewish cultural circles for some time before they realized the Gospel message was for all peoples of all cultures.
Perhaps those insisting Jesus say clearly he was the Christ also saw that as being the proof they needed that they should band together as soldiers behind a king who was going to help them clean house. Our Lord gives them a different image of his disciples: sheep who are cared for and protected from the wolves, but who also recognize the shepherd for who he is and follow him in meekness and humility. In the First Reading these “sheep” were called Christians for the first time: society had to acknowledge that this was not just another group, but something new, something different.
Society today also needs something new, something different, and Christianity always has the potential to infuse culture with life and meaning. Let’s ask Our Lord help us today to see how by being better Christians in his eyes we can also give that testimony to something new and different in the secularized society that surrounds us.