FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER – GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY
MAY 7, 2017
I am the good shepherd, says the Lord;
I know my sheep, and mine know me.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Saint John 10: 1-10
I AM THE GATE FOR THE SHEEP
“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
Although Jesus used this figure of speech, they did not realize what he was trying to tell them. So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came [before me] are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.
The Gospel of the Lord
Today is Good Shepherd Sunday, yet in addition to presenting Himself as a trustworthy shepherd, Jesus is emphasizing that he is also the Gate for the Sheep! It is valuable to capture the image, the figure of speech that Jesus is creating for us today because we do not want it said of us what was said of His contemporaries: they did not realize what he was trying to tell them. Embedded in the image is the drama and beauty of what Jesus is revealing.
On one of my trips to the Holy Land, our guide explained how shepherds of Jesus’ time would manage their sheep at night. The shepherd would lead his sheep into a pen not made of wood but made out of a wall of field stone. The pen would have an opening called a gate through which the sheep would pass, but the opening had no material gate that would open and shut. The shepherd himself was the gate. Once the sheep were secure within the gate the shepherd would lay down across the opening … thus becoming the gate. By doing this, the sheep would have to walk on his body if they tried to get out. And more importantly, a wolf that would want to get into the pen to attack the sheep would have to walk on the shepherd. In both cases the shepherd would wake and protect the sheep.
Obviously, this placed the shepherd in a very dangerous position. However, a good shepherd was expected to sacrifice for his sheep. Jesus identified Himself in this way: He is the gate … and more dramatic than that … He is the Gate who is willing to lay down His life for His sheep. We are the sheep for whom Jesus did give His life. I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.
Can you picture in your mind this image of Jesus lying down on the ground, acting as a gate to keep you safe, acting as a wall of protection against all evil and harm! Can you feel the intense love that Jesus has for you, as if you were His one and only lost sheep that He wants to protect now and always!
The incredible love that God has for each of us is truly beyond human understanding … the Eternal Son of God humbled Himself to be a gate protecting helpless little ones like you and me! Should we not then listen to His voice and follow Him?
ENCOUNTERING THE DIVINE PHYSICIAN, JESUS CHRIST
HEALING OF THE PARALYTIC (LUKE 5: 17-26)
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