Intimate vs. Transactional relationships!

On this Good Shepherd Sunday, it will be great to meditate on Jesus’s statement about the kind of relationship he craves with us, his sheep. “I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father. Because of this I give my life for my sheep” (Jn. 10:14-15). Jesus wants an intimate relationship with each of us. It is the kind of relationship in which the one knows the other in such a way that they exchange a deep mutual trust the bedrock of which is an assurance of love that is true and lasting. It is a love whose reward is in loving and being loved. That is why the persons involved in this intimacy know each other, a knowledge in which all aspects of the one are laid open to the other without shame or judgment. As you can see, intimacy is way deeper than just sex, as most people think. Intimacy is, first and foremost, an experience of the heart and soul before the body gets involved in a sexual experience. In that sense, sexual experience becomes an expression of that which is already happening at the level of the heart and soul. That is why there are too many soulless sexual experiences going on in the world, which do not express intimacy at all. In the end, the parties walk away empty.

Conversely, transactional relationships are built on a quid pro quo principle. They are relationships driven by self-interest and personal gain. In such relationships, one’s knowledge of the other is superficial, lacking in depth and transparency. The true self remains hidden, shielded from the other’s view. In transactional relationships, one party often exploits the other to further their own agenda. The most painful scenario arises when transactional relationships masquerade as intimate ones. This deception can lead to significant emotional distress, particularly when one person enters the relationship seeking intimacy, while the other is driven by a transactional mindset.

Jesus wants an intimate relationship with us, not a transactional one. May we open ourselves to this experience because it transforms us and our relationships with others. May we feel the love of the Good Shepherd and love Him as much. Amen

~Fr Cornelius Okeke