Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on you as a contradiction.  What do we see?  What do we believe?  How should we respond to this idea? Listen to this podcast of his reflection for the 4th Sunday of Easter to find out. Please read John 10:22-30. For Audio, “Read More” below.  #GreatCatholicPreaching #Catholic #BenU1887 #GreatPreaching #John10 #Sheep #Hear #ChristShepherd #Sermons #Homilies

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For Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 4/21/2013The 4th Sunday of Easter.

Please pause this audio and read John 10:27-30.
    You are a contradition.
    I am a contradiction.
    If you follow Jesus Christ, you are a contradiction to people who have no idea what it means to be a follower of Jesus.  You are a contradiction to people who cannot understand that we do not ascribe to an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but we strive to love our enemies.  You are a contradiction to people who have never experienced the love of Christ intimately.  
Three weekends ago, I was the spiritual director for one of the best retreats I have been on in 30 years of ministry.  The love of God and love for each other that the college students had on that retreat was everywhere.  Of course, the point of a retreat is to give the participants a concentrated dose of the love of God, but this one was special.
    On the retreat, there was young man who had never experienced Jesus Christ as one who loves us and knows us intimately.   A few days after the retreat, he said to me, “the first two days, I as annoyed and thought it was ridiculous.”  He said, “I was like, ‘why are these people so happy? What is going on here?  It wasn’t until Sunday that I understood and realized that I could be loved.’”  It was when he believed that his eyes were opened and he received sight.  Now, he knows who Christ is and what it means.  He also knows what it means to not understand these Jesus Freaky people.
    This passage from Saint John’s Gospel comes after and within a long string of encounters with the Pharisees and the leaders of the Jews where Jesus’ identity is being questioned.  “Are you the Messiah, just say so!” they say to him.  This would be the same thing as saying, “Just say that you plotted to kill the President.”  Putting that aside, it should be noted that this passage is in Chapter 10.  In Chapter 9, the blind man to whom Jesus gave sight is questioned about who Jesus is.  After the questions from the authorities in which the blind man makes a mockery of the religious people, the man formerly blind meets Jesus. At the end of that encounter, Jesus says, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” The point in Chapter Nine is, those who believe, see.
    Now that we come to this passage about the Shepherd and his sheep, it is similar: those who believe, hear.  As Jesus says in John 10:4, “…the sheep follow him because they know his voice.”  We know his voice.  His voice has caused us to overcome our differences with loved ones.  His voice has caused us to stop having sex before marriage.  His voice has called us to worship him with all of our heart, mind and strength.  His voice has caused us to take the Word of God to every culture on earth.  His voice has given us calm at the greatest of tragedies, like the Bombing in Boston and the Explosion in West, Texas.  His voice has caused us to put together incidents that would ordinarily seem disconnected and without any meaning to the world and make them a sign from the living God.
    Many years ago, I was at the bedside of a friend who was soon to die.  She was a mainstay in organizing the Cursillo Retreats in our parish.  She had cancer and had been in the hospital so many times.  I was standing in her room with my Bible in hand as the third nurse they sent had come in to get an IV started.  The third nurse began to try to get the “stick” and it didn’t work.  Then, I heard a whispering in my heart, “Pray for her.  Let me guide her hands.”  When I looked up, my friend smiled and nodded to me as if she heard it too.  Then, I closed my eyes and I prayed.
    “Oh! What do you know!” exclaimed the nurse.  “I got it.  I wonder why those others had such a hard time!” she said.
    After she left the room, my friend, who later that week went to heaven I am sure, looked at me and we laughed.  We laughed and laughed and laughed.  We knew.  We saw.  We heard. We believed.  
We understood that God delivers us.  How did we know?  How did I know that it was the voice of God and not indigestion from a bad piece of meat I had for dinner?  I knew because I am the sheep and I see everything in life through the Shepherd Gate.
    The hymn we sing says,
We have been told.
We’ve seen his face
and heard his voice alive in our hearts.
“Live in my love with all your heart.
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.”
    Additionally, we are told that we cannot be snatched away from Christ.  For those who follow Christ, it is interesting that we often give the devil more credit than he is due.  The Devil comes into us only by our invitation.  He tempts us, but unless we give in, he cannot come and snatch us away when we are connected to the Vine, when we remember that we are the sheep of the Shepherd.  God is much stronger than evil.  It may not seem like it, but God has the long game in mind.   The question is can we withstand evil and trust that we are not going to be snatched?
    We need to answer that question because those who do not walk by THE Different Drummer, they will persecute us.  It only stands to reason.  We confuse them.  We make no sense to them.  We are nuts.  We are crazies.  We are irrational.  We follow a reality that is unseen.  We follow a voice that is not heard or given credibility.   Yet, we follow him with joy, not just for the promise of eternal life, which we DO NOT dwell on enough, but also for the voice we hear and the reality we see every day.  It is the joy of the college students on retreat loving each other and anyone within sight.  It is the joy of seeing the small miracle of an IV being inserted after a small prayer.  It is the joy of knowing that the reality of a small piece of bread and a small sip of wine are really the body of the eternal Savior and his precious blood.  It is the joy of knowing that when we eat this bread and drink this cup we proclaim his death and resurrection until he comes to take us away from those who do not see, hear nor understand.
    To them, I am a contradiction.  You are a contradiction. Our ways are not their ways because we believe, thus we see and we hear.    Where do you hear the voice of Christ calling you to go? What do you hear the voice of the Shepherd say to you?  What do you need to do to follow Him?  Do it.  Do it now.  Amen?  Amen.
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