Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wednesday in Lent 5

John 10:1-18
v. 10-11 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Today we have one of the most beloved of images from the Bible: the good shepherd. It is an image of ultimate care, of nurture and protection.

But I want to focus on the "abundant life" Jesus promises us. What does this abundant life look like? It is different from what one might expect--a life of ease. It is, instead, a life lived in perfect love-which may not be easy at all. It wasn't, after all, for Jesus. It called him to lay dow his life.

To live abundantly is to love fully. In John's Gospel Jesus leaves his disciples with the "new commandment:" love one another as I have loved you. This is the way to abundant life and its symbol is the towel. Jesus enacts this love commandment by taking the role of the most menial of (usually female) servants and washing the feet of the disciples.

You'll recall that as Jesus washes the disciples' feet, Peter strenuously objects. This is not his idea of abundant living. I would suggest that we are more like Peter than we care to admit. Abundant living and servanthood seem almost oxymorons to us. Yet Jesus says to Peter, "If I do not wash you, you have no part in me." This is serious business.

The great truth here is that I can only live abunantly when I live outside of myself.

Who am I called to serve today? How can I live more abundantly?

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