Posted: 01 May 2009 09:00 PM PDT
Acts 4:8-12 / 1 John 3:1-2 / John 10:11-18
A man in Germany went to confession after many years. “Forgive me, Father,” he said, “during World War II, I hid a refugee in my attic.”
“That’s not a sin,” replied the priest.
“But you see, I charged him rent.”
“Well, that is fairly tacky, but it’s still no sin.”
“Father, I have just one more question,” said the man.
“And what would that be?”
“Do I have to tell him the war’s over?”
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Truly rotten! But before we cast too many stones, a quick look inward might be in order. No doubt we do all sorts of noble and even heroic deeds. But there’s another side of us, the dark side that’s sometimes truly appalling. And the worst part is that much of the time we don’t even notice the harm we do.
Most people who crush the spirits of others, or break their hearts, or rob them of hope or joy, or who squander their own gifts, don’t notice what they’re doing — not at the time and sometimes not ever! There’s plenty of darkness amongst the best of us, and quite enough “rotten” to go around.
That’s what makes Jesus’ words to us Sunday’s Gospel so astonishing. “I am your shepherd,” he says, even though he sees our dark side and all our failures with crystal clarity. Yet he doesn’t turn away. Instead, he calls us each by name, softly, with no hint of anger or disgust, and he says, “I know you very well, and I want you to come with me. You have wonderful things inside you, and I can help to make them grow.
“Your fears bring out the darkest side of you and trap you in the dark. I want you to let them go. Give them to me. I’ll carry them for you,” he says.
“God our Father sent me to take care of you and to bring you home. I can do that, if you’ll trust me and not hold back. I can show you a new road, where it never gets dark, and where fear, blindness, and despair never come. I can lead you there, if you’ll trust me. Hold my hand tightly, and the darkness will never swallow you up.”
That’s what our brother Jesus is really saying to us in the Gospel. Listen to him. Let him take your hand. And walk with him out of the darkness of fear and blindness and into the light.