“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.”
Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
As St. Ignatius teaches us in the Spiritual Exercises, the struggle between the forces of good and those of evil is a pervasive and inescapable dynamic in our lives, even if we often do not recognize it. Jesus speaks of this struggle under the guise of the shepherd and the thief. One calls his sheep by name, walks ahead of them, and they follow him. The other comes “to steal and slaughter and destroy.”
Like the Pharisees in today’s Gospel, we often do not realize what Jesus is trying to tell us. In this Eastertide we pray for the grace of opening the ears of our heart so that we may recognize the voice of the one who comes that we might have a more abundant life. We pray also for the grace of seeing more clearly that the false gods which can be so tempting to follow, only come “to steal and slaughter and destroy.”
He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side.
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
—Psalm 23: 3b-4Please share the Good Word with your friends!