“No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again…” ~Jn 10:18
Today, I share a couple of things that came from the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verses 11-18.
The first thing I reflect on is the contrast at the beginning of the Gospel, where Jesus talks about the good shepherd laying down his life for his sheep, and the hired man who runs away at the first sign of adversity because the sheep are not his.
What came to mind, as I read the passage, was the current situation of affairs in society.
It seems that we are, we’re living in a time where we want to point fingers at everybody. We point fingers and like to blame other people for everything that’s happening in our lives.
For example, expecting schools to raise our children, expecting the church to satisfy all our needs and to raise our kids in the Catholic faith, and the government to take care of us when times are tough. Many examples can be mentioned for right, wrong, or indifferent, but that’s not the point.
To me, the message is clear: if other people don’t have ownership of my stuff, why should I expect them to take care of my stuff the same way I would take care of it?
It’s the same as when you rent a car for vacation. You’d treat that car with a lot less respect than your own. Or, when you get something for free, you tend to not value it as much as if you worked hard to get it and used money out of your own pocket to pay for it.
I reflect on this idea of ownership. If somebody doesn’t own what I have, I cannot expect them to take care of my things with the same level of effort that I would put into it. It’s an unreasonable expectation.
I’m guilty of it, too. I don’t necessarily care equally about other people’s dilemmas, problems, goals, dreams, possessions, kids, and any other examples that you could come up with. If I don’t have ownership of it, I’m not gonna do as much effort as if I had it.
I’m not saying I don’t go out of my way to help people, make sure they’re doing okay, try to encourage them, and lift them up. But that’s my choice. It’s a voluntary service, gift, or mission.
Put simply, if I don’t have stakes in the game of their life, I cannot care more than they care about it, and vice versa.
The second reflection came from verse 18 where Jesus says, “no one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again…”
We tend to relinquish control of our lives to the government, school, systems, society, and other people’s opinions. To me, that’s similar to laying out our lives at the mercy of external forces.
But why would I do that? Why would I do it when I have the power to create life in accordance with who I am, my beliefs, what I value, and the things that I do well?
To me, that is the reminder Jesus gave me with his statement: if I have the power to relinquish my life to someone else’s control, I also have the power to pick it back up and start creating life anew.
It’s the power to start creating a life based on what I want, what I desire, and what’s In alignment with me. Yes once I give it out to someone else, it may take some effort to pick it back up, especially when I have committed to things that I’m not supposed to be doing at all. But I still have the power to pick it up and start again.
There you have it. Two insights gained from the Gospel:
- Don’t expect other people to care about your things as much as you do because they don’t have ownership in it
- if you, for whatever reason, end up giving up control of your life to someone else’s ideas, you can always pick it back up and create once more.
Isn’t that a beautiful thing to have the power, let’s say the freedom, to choose how to do life and how to create it?
That seems like a gift to me.