Saturday, 24 April 2010

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me;

It is a busy day in the priory today and there is a big celebration tomorrow in de Seminary Chapel in Maynooth to celebrate 20 years since the start of Youth 2000. I just want to give a little thought drawn from the immense depths of St. John's Gospel! This Sunday's Gospel is from chapter 10:27-30. A relatively short Gospel, I can even quote it here:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one. (Joh 10:30 RSV)

What struck me most about the Gospel is the first line: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me;"  (Joh 10:27 RSV). We are called to be the Lords sheep, all of us are, and the Lord knows us all, whether we like it or not. It can maybe be helpful to reflect on the word knowledge here as there is a deep meaning in the use in combination with relation, it points to the intimacy between God and ourselves.

Usual when I think of knowledge I think of knowing something in my mind, for example that I live in Dublin. But knowledge can have another or deeper meaning as well, especially in the biblical context. In Philosophy the definition of knowledge includes that something is certain. Something is only knowledge if it has the deepest penetration possible and as such something becomes sure, there are no uncovered secrets any more, everything is out in the open.

Now recall one of the deep meanings of knowledge as we can find it in the bible, for example Genesis. A lot of translations, e.g. the New Jerusalem Bible write for Genesis 4:1 "The man had intercourse with his wife Eve"  (Gen 4:1 NJB) but the RVS uses "Now Adam knew Eve his wife"  (Gen 4:1 RSV), and the verb to know here is excactly the same Greek word as used in John 10:27: γινώσκω.

So putting these two things together we can see how close God is to us. God knows us in the deepest inmost way. Nothing in us is unknown to us and he is closer to us than anything else. He knows us deeper than Adam knew Eve in the most fundamental act of love... God is closer to us than that, and that is not just empty talk but reality!

God is always knocking, always seeking us out, He is always waiting for us to allow to enter into communion, to deeper our relationship. We are His sheep, and if we listen to His voice we will follow Him, follow Him to eternal happiness. This is the most fundamental aspect of our lives, and we should not brush over it easily! It is a reality, not some nice theory, a reality to be lived... our relationship with God is not just something for the future and the afterlife but something for here and now! We just have to open up our hearts to God, to let go of our defences and to break down the barriers and let Him in... to allow Eternal Love to touch our souls. Then we will experience what life really is about, as we get a gimps of what future union with God might be like once we enter Heaven!


Anonymous said...

It's easy to forget that the Lord is ever with us, especially during the tough times. Sometimes it feels that we have been forsaken, but our Lord promised that He would never leave or forsake us. He is the Good Shepher and always watches, even when we feel we're on our own.

Thanks for this beautiful meditation!

Like you, I'm a Catholic convert as well, and I'm in the process of discerning a vocation. Please pray for me! And may God bless you as you progress in your training.


Em the luddite said...

Wow, I had no idea that those are the same word. (I suppose you mean that it is the same word in the Septuagint? I need to get a copy of one of those!) Do you know if the idiom would have been used in 1st-century Greek? (Knowing how many idioms we encountered in class, it shouldn't surprise me!) Thank you for this reflection on knowing Christ's voice; it gives me quite a bit to think about.

Bro. Luuk Dominiek Jansen OP said...

Uuuhh yes, I was trying to figure out the Hebrew, but didn't want to complicate things to much by mention the Septuaginta. I use Bibleworks, and ידע (passim) and gives to know as the translation if I understand it correctly.

I looked at the different rendering of "to know" (γινώσκω) in the biblical context before, but it became to complicated and my Greek is not strong enough yet. So I have to come back to that one again...


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