The Gospel according to 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.”
Reflection: This reminds me of one of my favorite cartoons, although I had a lot of them, The Roadrunner. Wil-e Coyote was always attempting to be the thief or the robber in his attempt to capture the Roadrunner. That was his only goal in Wil-e-coyote’s life. In one of Wil-e attempts, he would sometimes put on a sheep costume to mimic a sheep. Of course, the Roadrunner was always smarter and would avoid situations. Now isn’t this true in our own lives where there are so many “Shepherds” in our life that attempts to influence us one way or another? Some are good and some are not so good. Oftentimes we can talk ourselves into believing that the many “voices” or influences that we encounter daily do not affect us. We are pressured by the voice of the media, pop culture, love of money, a desire for recognition and so much more. These are powerful influences and, whether we want to believe it or not, they do affect us. We must be aware of the false Shepherd’s that attempt to encompass our life.
The Gospel above gives us insight into this internal struggle in that it contrasts the voice of the Shepherd with the voice of a stranger. The sheep are easily taught and conditioned. They learn the voice of their shepherd because it was common practice for shepherds to regularly speak to their sheep. Once the sheep became used to the shepherd’s voice, they would turn and follow him when he called. We will follow the voice of that which we are most familiar with. “What are you most familiar with?” Ideally, we spend sufficient time in God’s Word, learning His language, tone and voice. Ideally, we dedicate some portion of our day, every day, to silent contemplation of God. As we do this, we build a habit of hearing Him speak and we become comfortable with and comforted by His voice.
Whatever it is that we immerse ourselves in each and every day will grow on us and draw us, even unknowingly, to follow. This Gospel is about discipleship and relationships. It’s calling us to Shepherd for our own flock and to one another. A great example since we celebrated Mother’s Day yesterday are all the wonderful Mom’s who shepherd their flocks by being the example of unconditional love, compassion, loyalty, devotion, and care. Mothers are the true shepherd that this Gospel is talking about.
Action of the Day: Identify who your loyal and true shepherds are that in your life.