Sunday, May 15, 2011

What is taking me away from Jesus, my Shepherd?

The faith given to me in baptism suggests to me surely: by yourself you will do nothing, but if you have God as the center of all your action, then you will reach the goal.--Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

Gospel text (Jn 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.”

Today, in this Gospel, Jesus uses two images when referring to himself: He is the shepherd and He is the gate. Jesus is the good shepherd and He knows his own sheep. «He calls each of his sheep by name» (Jn 10:3). For Jesus we are not just numbers; He has a personal kinship with each one of us. The Gospel is not only doctrine: it is Jesus' personal attachment to us.

And not only He does know us personally. He also personally loves us. “To know”, in St. John's Gospel, does not simply mean an act of our intellect, but and act of adhesion to the known person. And Jesus bears each one of us in his Heart. We must also know him like that. To know Jesus does not only mean an act of faith, but also of charity, of love. «Ask yourselves whether you belong to his flock, whether you know him —St. Gregory the Great tells us, while commenting this text— I assure you that it is not by faith that you will come to know him, but by love». And love is proven by deeds.

Jesus is also the gate. The sole gate. «Whoever enters through me will be saved» (Jn 10:9). And a little further, He insists: «No one comes to the Father except through me» (Jn 14:6). Today, a misinterpreted ecumenism causes some to believe Jesus is but one of many saviors: Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed..., it does not matter! But no! Whoever is saved, is saved through Jesus Christ, even if he did not know it in this life. He who tries hard to do well, will enter through Jesus, whether he is or he is not aware of it. But, because of the gift of our faith, we do know it. Let us be grateful for it. Let us try hard to enter through that gate, which, though narrow, He keeps it wide open. We bear witness that all our hopes are placed on Him.

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