Loving from the Inside

April 25, 2021; John 10:11-18; 4th Sunday of Easter

Miracles can happen in city traffic. Here is one of them. An elderly man and woman stand waiting on the corner of a busy street. They are unbelievably old: white hair, bent over, shaking hands, and unstable limbs. The light changes, and they step off the curb together. The man takes the woman’s arm and holds it tightly to his side as the two begin to shuffle through the standing traffic. Before they are halfway across, the light changes again. The cars begin to honk. But the man does not waiver. He holds on to his wife’s arm with all of his strength and keeps his eyes fixed on the pavement in front of him as they move forward ever so slowly. Finally, they reach the other side of the street together.

The inpatient motorists and preoccupied bystanders may not see the miracle in their midst: a bond of love that fear will not break; a relationship built up over decades of loving, understanding, forgiving and trusting; a union which gains its strength from knowing the other person so well that it is impossible to tell who is helping who, because their shared life is one. This kind of a relationship is a true miracle. It does not allow the couple to walk any faster. It certainly does not make them any younger. But it gives them the courage to live another day in a world that could all too easily brush them aside.

This is the way that Jesus loves us. This is the kind of bond that Jesus establishes with us. Jesus does not love us from the outside, stepping into our life now and then to help us with this and that. Jesus is not like the hired man in today’s gospel who works for pay. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who knows us as his own and who lays down his life for us. Jesus loves us from the inside, knowing who we are, remembering how our relationship began and then developed, understanding our every doubt, hope and fear. Jesus loves us from the inside. He knows our heart.

And what this means is that we can turn to Jesus when we cannot turn to anyone else. When, even after years of marriage, your spouse still does not understand why a particular friend means so much to you, Jesus understands. When others wonder why you are not yet over grieving the loss of a person you love, Jesus does not wonder. He knows your soul. When even you cannot explain why you are unable to forgive someone who has hurt you, Jesus knows your pain and is already moving you toward forgiveness.

Jesus loves us from the inside. That kind of love does not promise that every phase of our life will be easy. it does not assure us that every good thing we attempt will be successful. But the love of Jesus promises this: He will hold onto us with a strength that nothing can break and walk with us faithfully, until we reach the other side.

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