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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus is the Gate’


John 10: The Good Shepherd

Fifth Sunday of Easter, May 14, 2017 

Last week we studied and reflected upon the message from Peter – both his words and actions – and his message is clear. When Christ touches us to follow him, he also calls us to touch and lead others, even as we follow him. Jesus calls Peter as his good shepherd, and both Peter and Jesus call us as well. When we spend time with John 10, our baptism in Christ’s love becomes clear. Our response to this love is up to each of us.

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. (Verse 1)

Scholars tells us that in Jesus’ day, the repetition of words or phrases was a technique to bring attention to the words of the speaker. And so we ask: Amen, amen, where is the sheepfold we long to enter? Amen, amen, why do some of us clamber over the fence rather than look for the gate? Amen, amen, what shortcut do we seek? Amen, amen, what do we steal when we avoid the gate of Christ?

The gatekeeper opens the gate for the one who wants to enter the fold, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. (Verse 3)

Christ’s love is described here in intimate detail. A loving guide and protector casts a constant eye on his children to provide continual care and love. Jesus repeats his image for us so that we might better hear it and feel its impact.

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. (Verses 9 and 10)

False teachers and false idolaters will not see the shepherd. Those with hard hearts and stiff shoulders will not see the gate. Those who embrace endurance and perseverance, those who suffer well to bear all things in Christ, those who hope and rejoice in truth, those who live in the Spirit and who believe that with God all things are possible . . . those will not need to sneak into the fold like a thief or robber. Those are already there, preparing to go back out into the world with and in Christ.

And so we pray . . .

Good and gracious Lord, keep us always mindful of your love for us.  We know that the voices of this world are a loud distraction; yet we also know that you are The Gate and The Way.  You are the only true Good Shepherd.  Keep us mindful of your own patience and persistence. Continue to speak to us in that sacred place that only you and we know.  Protect us from those who would bend and break the spirit of you in us.  Keep us ever close to you in mind and body and soul.  Amen.

Adapted from a reflection written on August 30, 2007.

 

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Micah: The Promise of the Shepherd

Saturday, June 18, 2016

A shepherd at his sheep gate near Nazareth

A shepherd at his sheep gate near Nazareth

We have examined the construct of deception and how envy and hope show us divergent journeys through life. We have spent time with the prophet Micah who speaks to both fraudulent leaders and God’s vulnerable, faithful followers. With Micah, we have examined the true path to perfection and celebrated the promise of restoration offered us each day by the Creator.

“With burning eloquence [Micah] attacked the rich exploiters of the poor, fraudulent merchants, venal judges, corrupt priests and prophets”. (Senior 1140) The prophet’s testimony foreshadows Jesus’ words. Do we believe that God comes to live among us? And what does God’s presence look like? And how will we recognize this consoling presence?

Through Micah, God says: Woe to those who plan iniquity, and work our evil on their couches.” (2:1)

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says: Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:24)

Through Micah, God says: I will assemble all the remnant of Israel; I will group them like a flock in the fold, like a herd in the midst of the corral; they shall not be thrown I to a panic by men. With a leader to break the path they will burst open the gate and go out through it; their king shall go through before them, and the Lord at their head”. (2:12-13)

In the Gospel of John, Jesus says: Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he’s up to no good – a sheep rustler! The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it. (John 10:1-6)

Those who were listening to Jesus’ voice: had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good – sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for – will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. ( John 10:7-10)

The Creator speaks to us through the prophet Micah. The Creator visits us in the person of Jesus. The Creator lives in us as the healing presence of the Holy Spirit. Let us listen to the promise given us this day; let us share this gift of hope and redemption with others; and let us persist in listening for and following the voice of the genuine shepherd.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1140. Print.   

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Joel 3:17-21: Salvation for God’s Elect

Saturday, May 28, 2016Wonder-and-Amazement

The expression “God’s Elect” seems contrary to the message of Jesus about universal access to God and salvation. We are all given the option to listen, seek, obey and serve. So the expression we see here today may put us out of our comfort zone. We need to think about this.

From the NAB: “This prophecy is rich in imagery and strongly eschatological in tone. . . Its prevailing theme is the day of the Lord.”

From today’s MAGNIFCAT: “Jesus said: ‘I am the gate. Whoever enters me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture’.” John 10:9 The gate to the Lord’s sheepfold is narrow and cut in the shape of a cross. Yet Christ leads the flock safely through to the place of pasture he has prepared for us. . . Two distinct groups follow Jesus as he goes up to Jerusalem. Those who walked with him who ‘were amazed’ are the ones who live the prayer, ‘Look upon us, show us the light of your mercies. Give new signs and work new wonders.’ However, those who walked behind him ‘were afraid.’ Joining with Jesus who gives his life as a ransom for many changes our fear into amazement.”

With God and prayer, fear turns to amazement. We must remember this.

When we turn to God through our suffering, our wonder and awe are increased many-fold. When we see how God provides for us, our faith is increased many-fold. When we dream of prayers God might answer for us, our petitions are answered many-fold. When we love as God loves us, our love is increased many-fold. And so we pray.

Good and gracious God, grant us the patience, the wisdom, and the perseverance to seek the narrow gate and to enter it. May our fear turn to awe, and may we be continually amazed by your goodness. Amen.

Adapted from a Favorite from May 30, 2007.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 30.5 (2007). Print. 

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