Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Monday 02 August |
Saint of the Day: St. Peter Julian Eymard
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

Jesus’ simple message: You belong with me

JESUS,CANDLE

Devanath | CCO

Tom Hoopes - published on 05/09/19

It is hard to exaggerate how enormously significant it is for us that the Second Person of the Trinity, the Lord and King of the Universe, says this.

This Sunday is Good Shepherd Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C, and in its very short Gospel, Jesus makes a very simple point: You belong with me.

It is hard to exaggerate how enormously significant it is for us that the Second Person of the Trinity, the Lord and King of the Universe, says this.

We don’t just belong “to” him, we belong with him.

“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me,” he says.

Everyone who has made a conscious decision to follow Christ will know what that means. When we read the Beatitudes, or when we kneel before the Eucharist, we aren’t just experiencing something we know to be true — we are experiencing something we know, personally and intimately.

Encountering Christ is like being with our favorite family member — or, to use Jesus’ analogy it’s like a sheep hearing a shepherd or, closer to our experience, like a dog hearing its master’s voice.

A dog can be tricked or bribed or tempted into doing the wrong thing, but when the master comes home, the dog knows immediately where its true allegiance lies.

We hear Christ’s voice the same way. We may get distracted and stray away, but when we stop and listen and pay attention to his voice we know who he is, and we know where we should be.

It turns out that having the King of the Universe as your advocate comes with some very strong perks.

“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish,” said Jesus.

The Second Reading, from the book of Revelation, describes just what that eternal life looks like.

“The one who sits on the throne will shelter them. They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them,” it says. “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

This description of heaven describes exactly what we love about the happiest memories of our childhood, when people who loved us watched over us and provided everything we needed, and we had no worries and no fear.

Our memories are happier than the actual experiences were, probably — and being with God will be happier still.

Then Jesus says something which is at once comforting and terrifying: “No one can take them out of my hand.”

The devil can’t snatch us away. Neither can our persecutors.

The kind of persecution that is increasingly common in our day, physical martyrdom, can’t do it. The Second Reading describes martyrs this way: “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” That is what the Sri Lankan martyrs in today’s headlines are experiencing.

The kind of persecution that we experience in America can’t take us away from Christ, either. In the First Reading, the Christians’ opponents “were filled with jealousy and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said.” Not only that, they “incited the women of prominence who were worshipers and the leading men of the city, stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their territory.”

In other words, they mocked the Christians, made their arguments seem absurd, and froze them out of their society. We experience the same thing in our culture today — and it shouldn’t stop us any more than it stopped them.

Which brings us to what is terrifying about what Jesus says.

While no power can take us away from Jesus Christ, one small thing can: Our own willingness to shrug him off and follow our favorite sin instead.

Of course, we don’t just belong with him. We also belong to him.

Jesus finishes by spelling out his relationship with Christians in plain terms. “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it this way: “A baptized person belongs forever to Christ.”

In The Inferno, the Italian poetDante Alighieri’s description of hell, those who were baptized and then rejected God are punished more severely than those who were never baptized and never rejected him so directly. That is because baptism has given us a special relationship with God — and when we turn against him it is an even greater sin.

The Inferno reserves the worst punishment of all for sinners who betrayed their friend and their God, both at once — Judas and Brutus.

The moral is: Stay where you belong.

“The LORD is good,” says the Psalm, “his kindness endures forever, and his faithfulness, to all generations.”

Lord Jesus, give us the grace to always stay safe in the palm of your hand.


POPE LENT PENANCE

Read more:
Mercy with misery: Read the pope’s poignant invitation to set our eyes on Jesus, who has set us free

Tags:
Sunday Lessons
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
SIMONE BILES
Cerith Gardiner
Simone Biles leaves the Olympics with an important lesson for her...
2
Ignacio María Doñoro
Francisco Veneto
The military chaplain who pretended to be a criminal to rescue a ...
3
HIDILYN DIAZ
Cerith Gardiner
Gold-winning Filipina Olympian shares her Miraculous Medal for th...
4
JEDZENIE
Theresa Civantos Barber
The one thing we all should do before this summer ends
5
Zelda Caldwell
German women’s gymnastics teams modest dress protests sport’s ...
6
CARLO ACUTIS
Violeta Tejera
Carlo Acutis’ first stained glass window in jeans and sneak...
7
Zelda Caldwell
World-record winning gymnast Simone Biles leans on her Catholic f...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.