If we take just a couple of words from the Gospel, we can learn a lot. For example, in today’s Gospel, Jesus continually refers to us as “My sheep.”
Commentaries on Jesus’ calling us sheep like to emphasize sheep as stupid, smelly animals. Obviously, that is not the point to today’s Gospel.
Jesus’ language is emphatic when he calls us “MY sheep.” He says “No one can take my sheep out of my hand.” That is to say, he thinks his sheep are worth fighting for.
Jesus’ attitude toward his sheep reminds me of Michael Jordan. When Jordan has the ball, everyone on the court knows his attitude: “No one’s taking this ball from me!”
Of course the analogy breaks down when we consider what Jordan intends to do with the ball.
But I still like the example, because it illustrates Jesus’ point when he says, “No one takes my sheep!”
Christ’s deep passionate love for his sheep is no mere attitude, it’s an assurance. When he says, “The Father and I are one,” and “No one can take them from the Father’s hand,” He reminds us that we are in God’s hands.
If we belong to God, nothing can harm us and nothing can take us away from God. To be Christ’s sheep essentially means: to be eternally loved and to never lose that love.
As Saint Paul says:
In all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:37-39)
Because we belong to Christ, we belong to God.