Homily for the fourth Sunday of Easter - Year A - Jn. 10:1-10


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

" 'Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.' This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.


"So Jesus again said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and 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.' "





Homily:


"This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them."


The parable that Jesus tells us today seems to be easy to understand: it is the parable of the good shepherd who leads his sheep to pasture. The figure of the good shepherd is very well known. From the very first centuries of the Church, this image was used to represent the Lord when a sacred place was being adorned... However, according to Saint John, it seems that the listeners who were present at the time did not completely understand the exact sense of this parable: "This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them."


In fact, in order to properly understand this parable, one must keep in mind something else Jesus had said: "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." (Mt. 12:34) Now, speaking of the good shepherd, what can the words of Jesus be if not words of love and charity towards all the men and women of the earth, whom he calls to salvation in his Name? Certainly, what Jesus says in his parable consists of nothing but words of love, for he himself is the Father's Word of Love, he is the Word of Life begotten by the Father in the Spirit of Love!


"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber; but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out."


The shepherd enters the sheepfold by the door, and not by another way, as thieves and robbers would try to do. The shepherd is neither a thief nor a robber. The shepherd is Love in person, the Love of God, that Love who gives and who gives himself, very far from being similar to the thieves and robbers who come to steal and rob... The shepherd enters by the door that is his Heart, that very loving Heart which was pierced open by the thrust of a spear on the wood of the Cross, pierced open but not injured, for Jesus had not suffered due to this wound on his Heart, since he was already dead...


The shepherd enters the sheepfold, and the gatekeeper opens to him. Where is this gatekeeper, if not inside the sheepfold? The gatekeeper himself is one of the sheep who needs to be led to pasture. As Jesus is not only a shepherd, but also the door, as he had said himself (Jn. 10:7,9), it is clear that it is Jesus, the shepherd, who appointed the gatekeeper. Now, the person to whom Jesus had given the "keys" (Mt. 16:19) to open the door to the Kingdom of Heaven was Peter, the prince of the Apostles, he who is one of the sheep, a stone among the other "living stones" (1 P. 2:5) who make up the dwelling of God among men...


The gatekeeper opens to the shepherd, who enters the sheepfold... The gatekeeper opens the sheepfold with the key of faith and trust, for only faith and trust can open the door to Love! It is with this faith and trust that the sheep listen to the voice of Love and recognize the voice of the shepherd! Of all human works, faith and trust are the most beautiful and noble, for without them Love has no place in this world, without them the sheep would never reach the pasture of eternal bliss...


"When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers."


"Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." (Mt. 12:34) When Jesus speaks, it is Love who speaks. When another speaks, not in the name of Jesus but rather in his own name, it is the love of self that speaks, it is not Love with a capital L, it is not the Love of God that speaks... The sheep know the voice of Jesus, for Jesus is the Love of God in person, he is the Love of God come into the world to save it from perdition: "I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture." (Jn. 10:9)


"So Jesus again said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them. I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and 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.' "


Jesus wants to lead us to Heaven! Let us allow him to take us by the hand, let us allow him to draw us to him by his Love and his grace! Let us allow Mary herself to lead us to Jesus in order that, through Her, we might go to Heaven and find our pasture there: "I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture." For Jesus and Mary are united: there is but a single mediator between God and men, the mediator through whom the sheep enter into the sheepfold and then exit it to go to Heaven! May the Spirit of Love one day lead us all to Paradise! Amen!



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