Monday, April 23, 2018
1) Opening prayer
Lord God, our Father,
the Spirit of Jesus calls us, as he called your Son,
to abandon our old selves and our old world
to be free for new life and growth.
Forgive us our fear and hesitations,
lead us out of our worn-out phrases and habits,
and our self-made certainties,
steep us in the gospel of your Son,
that his good news may become credible
in our times and our world.
We ask you this through Christ our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading - John 10,1-10
Jesus said: “In all truth I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a bandit. He who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the flock; the gatekeeper lets him in, the sheep hear his voice, one by one he calls his own sheep and leads them out. When he has brought out all those that are his, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow because they know his voice. They will never follow a stranger, but will run away from him because they do not recognise the voice of strangers.' Jesus told them this parable but they failed to understand what he was saying to them. So Jesus spoke to them again: In all truth I tell you, I am the gate of the sheepfold. All who have come before me are thieves and bandits, but the sheep took no notice of them. I am the gate. Anyone who enters through me will be safe: such a one will go in and out and will find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.”
• In Jesus we have the model of the true shepherd. In him is fulfilled the expectation of the Good Shepherd promised by God: the “Great Shepherd” greater than Moses (Hb 13, 20).
• John 10, 1-6: The gate of the sheepfold. In Jn 10, 1-10 it is said that Jesus is the “gate” to get to the sheep and to be led to the pastures (10, 7.9-10).
The theme of the sheep had already been introduced in John 2, 15 and in a particular way in 5, 2 where it is indicated that there is a Sheep Pool with five porticos along which were laid the sick to be healed. In this last context the sheep indicate the people who were oppressed by their directors. In Jn 10, 1, Jesus links the theme of the sheep to the atrium or inner courtyard of the Temple, the Jewish institution administered by men of power who trampled on the rights, justice and exploited the people. Such individuals were called by Jesus “thieves and bandits”.
Jesus begins his long presentation before the Pharisees, who were closed up in their unbelief and insufficiency (9, 40-41) with a general affirmation: a more sure way to enter into contact with the sheep is that of entering by the gate of the enclosure in which they are kept. Anyone who enters in a different way is not animated by a reason of love for the sheep, but in order to exploit them for his own interest. This is the sin of those who direct the people: to take hold of everything that belongs to all for themselves. Jesus calls this attitude using the term “thief”. This was precisely the accusation that Jesus addressed to the chief priests of the people during his first visit to the Temple (2, 13ss).
Another term that Jesus uses to indicate those who take away from the people what belongs to them is: “bandit”. Such a term indicates those who use violence. Therefore, the chief priests of the Temple oblige the people to submit themselves to the violence of their system (7, 13; 9, 22). The effect of this is that it produces a state of death (5, 3.21.25).
The shepherd enters through the gate to take care of the sheep, not to oppress them or maltreat them. In fact, the sheep recognize his authority (voice) and follow him. The voice of Jesus contains a message of liberation for them that is typical of the Messiah. Besides, his voice is not addressed to an anonymous group of persons but he calls each one personally. For Jesus no anonymous crowd of people exists, but each person has a face, a name, dignity. The Temple (the enclosure of the sheep) has become a place of darkness, characterized only by economic interests; money has replaced the exclusive attention to God: the Temple has become the business or trading house (Jn 2, 16).
Jesus leads the people to take them out of the darkness. And he does not do this in a fictitious way, but in a real way, because such is the work which the Father has entrusted to him. The fundamental strokes of this mission are: to enter and to call. Those who respond to that call, to the call to liberty become a new community: “Those who are His own”.
• John 10, 7-10: Jesus is the new door. Jesus again uses the symbolism of the gate in vv. 7-8: applying this to himself. He is the new door not only in regard to the old enclosure of Israel represented by the chief priests of the people but also in regard to those who follow him. He reminds the first ones of his legitimacy to be the only place of access for the sheep, because he is the Messiah ready to give his life for the sheep. And it is not by domination or prevarication, that one can approach the sheep to have a relationship with them, but rather by assuming the attitude of the one who gives his life for them. His words are a categorical invitation to change mentality, way of thinking and way of relating.
The entrance through Jesus signifies to consider the good of man as a priority and to commit all our energy to attain this. Anyone who does not enter into this new logic is an oppressor. The reader finds that the words of Jesus addressed to his contemporaries and in a particular way to the chief priests of the people, who have used domination and violence to exploit the people, are truly hard and strong, firm.
He is the new gate in regard to every person. But for men and women of today what does it mean to enter through the door which is Jesus? It implies to “get close to Him”, “to trust Him” (Jn 6, 35), to follow Him and to allow ourselves to be guided by His message (8, 31. 51), in definitive it means to participate in the dedication of Jesus so that the true happiness of man may be accomplished.
4) Personal questions
• Jesus is the Good Shepherd because he always knows you, but do you recognize him? He is a Shepherd who comes to your life as a door to go out and to enter: do you allow Him to lead you when you relate with others?
• In your community, in your family are you also a door, not to close it, but to remain open to fraternal communication, to allow esteem and hope to go through?
5) Concluding Prayer
Lord, send out your light and your truth;
they shall be my guide,
to lead me to your holy mountain
to the place where you dwell. (Ps 43,3)