April 30, 2023: Fourth Sunday of Easter
Gospel: John 10:1-10
Jesus said: “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 the shepherd 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, the Pharisees 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.”
When I glanced at this Gospel passage, I immediately thought of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. I thought, “Oh no! What more can I say about the Good Shepherd that has not already been said!” A more careful reading, however, revealed what Jesus was emphasizing. He’s not calling himself the shepherd in this passage. He is calling himself the gate! We might spend some time with “gates.” What is their practical significance? What might be their spiritual significance?
In what ways this week can we strive to be gates of inclusivity? Whom will we let in, whom will we encourage to participate? Say the SP Prayer of Nonviolence, reflecting on the sentence, “Grant us the desire, and the humility, to listen with special care to those whose experiences and attitudes are different from our own.”
To me the gate signifies a certain “path” I must take to enter and receive God’s salvation.