On the Gospel of John 10:1-10
Fourth Sunday of Easter
When I was a twelve year old boy I lived on a small farm in the southern countryside of my homeland. It is funny looking back now, but I actually attempted naming the animals, but it was always most difficult to do so when it came to naming and identifying the sheep! (They were all brown by the way!).But as I spent more time in the valleys watching and observing their religious pattern of eating, straying and coming back home, I noticed particular traits of almost each one of them. In today’s Gospel account of the Good Shepherd, what does this ‘shepherding’ teach us about ourselves in relationship to and with God?
At each day’s end, the flock of sheep after grazing, would be guided back into the shelter for rest, either by a bell, or by the voice of the shepherd calling them when it is time. So too does Christ the Good Shepherd notice us and he calls each one of us by name – “I know my sheep and my sheep know me”. Many evenings I have had to practically stand at the entrance of the barn to make sure every sheep, cow and goat; especially the wayward ones, come home. Of course there must be the one who would take its time and not want to leave the tempting lush pastures. Great patience is needed I must admit. Jesus Christ is literally the gate in which we the people of his flock must pass through to get to heaven our eternal home – “no one comes to the Father except through me”. The Scriptures describe God as a shepherd who brings security and peace to his people – “The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and for evermore”.
Just as a shepherd kept watch over his sheep and protected them from danger, so Jesus stands watch over his people, patiently waiting on us, as the Shepherd of our souls. He knows how tempting things of this world can be, to the point where we stray, or procrastinate in heeding to the beckoning toll of the bell. But the Good Shepherd does not accuse or beat the one that is stubborn; rather he may sometimes go out himself and bring the lost or lazy one home. We can identify with these animals I am sure in some significant way. How comforting it is to know that we have a friend in one who stands patiently and lovingly at that gate to ensure our safety and protection from the wolves of this world that threaten us, or against the luring incites of the materialistic world.
If today you hear God’s voice calling you, to not be afraid to respond and submit to Him. He is the Good Shepherd. Help us today Lord, though we may stray, to always recognize your voice and give us the strength to always follow you our shepherd and guide.
“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them. Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”.
– John 10:1-10