01 May 2007

O, the Suspense!

4th Week of Easter (T): Acts 11.19-26 and John 10.22-30
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
Church of the Incarnation


Had I been in the temple area that day I would have been one of those nagging Jesus about his identity: “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Amen! Just say so, so we can make our choices and move on. How hard can it be to just say, “I am the Christ”? Not hard at all apparently b/c when confronted with the frustrated demands of his listeners, Jesus answers, “I told you [who I am] and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me […] The Father and I are one.” Does this dissipate the suspense for you? Let’s hope not! Well, I mean, let’s hope that you come to believe the testimony of Jesus’ works, or especially his own witness to his identity—of course! But let’s not be too hurried about suspending suspense. The fire of the Holy Spirit is gathering heat. Even here—in the early chapters of John—we can hear the Voice of the Shepherd, his Word and Spirit, roaring and commanding, boisterously reassuring: my sheep hear my voice. They know me and follow me. No one takes my sheep from me or the Father! This isn’t about the possession of property. We aren’t cattle. Nor is this about personal loyalty. Jesus is not our gang leader. The Voice of the Word, the Spirit is our guarantee of the Father’s radical love, a divine passion for us, a love that sprints along our skin; pulls and pushes our muscles; pumps our blood; sparks memory, mind, heart and will. And relentlessly spools us to Him like lazy catfish stuck on a river bottom. It is not enough to know that you’re hooked! Testimony. Witness. Evidence. Fine. All perfectly wonderful. But do you hear his voice? Do you know him as your shepherd and friend? Do you follow where he leads? Do not suspend suspense entirely! If you believe that being caught by the Divine Fisherman ends your questioning, your need for insight, your longing for wisdom; or stops the hard work of daily holiness, then you need to know that the Holy Spirit will settle for nothing less from you than everything you are made to be in Christ. So, tell me, with Christ, where is it exactly in your life that you want to wreck, surrender, and fade away?

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