How often do we hear the phrase, “We believe what we want to believe.” It’s equally true that we refuse to believe what we don’t want to believe. In today’s reading the Jews are pushing Jesus to state his case. “If you are the Messiah tell us plainly.” Jesus replies, “You do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep.” In other words, the questioners are not his followers, they are hostile towards him and therefore they are not open to believing in him even though they have seen the evidence. In some ways Christianity is a chicken and egg kind of scenario. We need to be followers of Jesus, to believe in him, but we need to believe to be followers. Which comes first is up to us, but we have to be open to hearing and recognising Jesus in our twenty first century world.
Hearing, recognising, believing and responding is what ‘Good Shepherd Sunday’ is all about. Some situations have got ‘God’ written all over them and some haven’t. How do we tell the difference? What are we called to do? How are we called to believe? Some things are obvious, some things aren’t. But at the heart of everything, even issues that didn’t exist in Jesus’ day such as euthanasia, and stem cell research, Jesus’ teachings are like ’cat’s-eyes’ on life’s dark country roads. We have to recognise Jesus’ voice in everything by asking, how much of today’s decisions are based in love, and how much of our decisions are based in our own human agendas.