The Good Shepherd
We are made to live! Christ came so that you and I “might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10). He brings His own out to pasture so that they may be filled and share it together, as one sheepfold.
The Good Shepherd - John 10: 1-10
There are many things that could be said about this passage, and many insightful comments have been made by a number of wise and holy people throughout the years. So I will not try to one up them. Rather, I would just like to offer a brief reflection on an image that I found particularly striking while reading this portion from John’s Gospel that we hear today.
“I am the gate” (Jn 10:9). These four simple words of Our Lord should give us great pause. Jesus not only identifies Himself as the “good shepherd’ (Jn 10:14) later in this chapter, but also here as “the gate”. We must pass through Him. It seems like such a simple and sensical request. Then our egos come rearing their ugly little heads. “But why do I have to go through the gate? It would be easier, more fun, not a big deal, quicker, etc. to just jump on in. Why should someone else have control over whether or not I get in if that’s where I want to be?” We want to enter on our terms and for our own interests, which are foreign to the sheepfold and the shepherd. And since we seek to do our own will, not humble ourselves to submit to the shepherd, it turns destructive. The late Cardinal George from Chicago used to say in reference to a popular liturgical hymn, “Yes, all are welcome...on Christ’s terms.” It is this that we struggle to remember and live.
We can pride ourselves thinking that we know what is best for us, and that our perception or judgment of a situation is flawless. How foolish! Yet time and again we choose to jump the fence. We jump in, but now we do not know the shepherd or His voice because we did not encounter Him at the gate. We did not take the time to allow Him to know us or to get to know Him. And if we do not know Him, then we will not know His voice and we will not follow Him. Is it really any wonder why so many of us struggle to know when Christ is calling us, even by name? We can’t discern His voice from our own because we have trained ourselves to follow our selfish ego. Now, He recognizes us in the sheepfold because He knows and “calls His own” (Jn 10:3), but because we did not enter through Him we resist the call to follow Him and be led out.
In our confusion we might be tempted to say, “Fine, but at least I’m in! I don’t need to be led out. I can be content pasturing here.” We isolate ourselves. We are willing to resign ourselves to a mediocre life, one that is about merely surviving and not living. Brothers and sisters, we are made to live! Christ came so that you and I “might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10). He brings His own out to pasture so that they may be filled and share it together, as one sheepfold. They are brought into a greater freedom and a full life because they entered through the gate on Christ’s terms. Let us strive to humble and entrust ourselves to the care of the Good Shepherd, so that we too may have an abundant life.