Reflection: Fourth Sunday of Easter

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Tuesday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church

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[1st Reading – Acts 2:14,36-41; Ps.22; 2nd Reading – 1Pt.2:20-25; Gospel – Jn.10:1-10]

“I AM THE GATE”

In today’s gospel Jesus says that he is the Gate. This is not the first time that he uses similar comparisons in his teaching. In other instances Jesus says that he is the vine, the bread of life, the shepherd… Today Jesus is referring to himself as the Gate. While in the other similitudes he uses things that have or had life in them, he now uses the example of the gate, a manmade object used to indicate the boundary of either being inside or outside a specific space.  In fact, a gate is typically used to delineate the limits of what is in and/or out. A gate is often built in such a way that one is able to easily see through it and observe the other side. The main purpose of a Gate is to be a passage through which one can get from one side to the other and vice versa. Jesus says that he is the “gate of the sheepfold“. He also adds that those who pass through him will be safe. Furthermore, those who pass through this gate (i.e., through him), they may have life and have it in full. And just before saying that he is the gate, Jesus says that he is the shepherd…

Although Jesus presents himself as the gate, he is also saying something about those who make use of this gate. Firstly, Jesus speaks about those who enter the sheepfold through another way and not through the gate, which Jesus calls strangers, thieves and brigands who come not to give life but to steal, kill and destroy. These can quite easily be sheep that want to be part of the sheepfold, but decide to make their way to the flock through another way which has nothing to do with this gate. Jesus says that their presence in the sheepfold is not one which builds up the sheep’s community, but one which destroys… Jesus is saying that they want to benefit from being part of the sheepfold, but in truth they want to do away with Jesus (because they do not enter through the gate).

Secondly, Jesus speaks about the sheep which pass through the gate. These are ready to listen to the voice of the shepherd and follow him… Jesus says that those who pass through him “will go freely in and out and be sure of finding pasture”. Jesus is speaking about the freedom of those who decide to follow him. It is one of the choices that one makes in life.  One is free to pass through this gate or not pass through it at all… If one passes through it he/she will find pasture that helps him/her to have life and life to the full. If he/she chooses to go in or out in another way, he/she is a stranger, a thief and a brigand… It depends therefore on the choices that one makes – the option of hearing the voice of the shepherd and following him or not. The Shepherd, Jesus, the Gate… is not going to impose anything. He is only going to make his voice heard. But it depends on us to listen to it and to follow it.

Therefore it does not really matter what Jesus says about himself and what comparisons he uses… it all depends on our attitude and our openness to his voice, to his presence in our life.

“Lord, we know that you gave us freedom to decide for ourselves if we want to follow your ways or not. You also showed us the way. Give us the strength that we need to be able to make the right choice and decide to pass through the gate that takes us to pastures that give life to the full.  Thank you Lord!”

 

Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo http://www.stpatrickwaterloo.org.uk/ )

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