Meditation for the Day

Fourth Sunday of Easter, May 3

Jesus Truly Is the Good Shepherd, the Gate Through Which Each of Us Will Find That Peace and Rest for Which We So Desperately Yearn.

We hear in today’s Gospel, “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.”

It was some time ago when my wife and I stood outside an abortion clinic in a nearby community praying the Rosary. We could see the faces of so many young women who were going inside, presumably, to have the lives of their babies within their wombs terminated.

On many of these faces, there were expressions of confusion or bewilderment when they saw the group of us praying for an end to the atrocities of abortion and that the hearts of these dear mothers would be opened to God’s Love in their lives. It was like these women were wandering from car to clinic, like sheep without a shepherd, for they were unable to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd calling out to them.

It is this voice which leads us, supports us, and raises us up – which is the common thread we find weaving itself throughout today’s Readings, a voice which quenches our thirst and satisfies our hunger for God’s Truth.

In today’s Gospel, John presents us with Jesus’ discourse about the Good Shepherd. Jesus is speaking to some of the Pharisees who had just thrown a blind man out of the Temple, excommunicating him so to speak, all because he gave credit to Jesus for opening his eyes on the Sabbath.

Our Lord was addressing their own spiritual blindness, when He began speaking about the parable of the Good Shepherd and the sheep who follow His voice. He says to them, “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.”

And due to their own closed-heartedness, Jesus then goes on to explain the parable, “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.”

One of the early Fathers of our Church, Saint Augustine, explains this verse to us this way, “To enter into the Church by Christ the Door, is a very good thing…Going in must refer to inward reflection [meditation]; going out to outward action.”

In other words, we are to interpret this to mean that the “outward action” is to share what we have received. And it is through this sharing whereby we shall “find pasture” – in other words, peace and happiness.

Each of us thirsts to hear the voice of our Shepherd, just as, in the 42nd Psalm, we are given the imagery of deer that thirst for running streams of fresh water. This thirsting is for His Truth which guides us safely throughout life’s journey, with its many ups and downs, its many peaks and valleys. We feel safe and comforted knowing that our Shepherd is always watching over us, protecting us and keeping us safe from all harm.

And do we not pray the words our Lord Jesus gave us in the Lord’s Prayer, “…deliver us from evil”? We are not unlike the sheep in the sheepfold, following the voice with which they are familiar, for it is in this voice that the sheep feel safe and comforted.

“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me; he restores my soul. He guides me along right paths for the sake of his name.” And, in His Name, we feel comforted and safe.

Jesus tells us today that “a thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy…” And is that not what today’s secular society tries to do to us? Have not many elements of society and the culture in which we live continuously try to belittle our Christian faith and a life of virtue?

We do not have to look far to see this happening right in our own “back yards”, so to speak. There are abortion clinics or hospitals which will perform an abortion in practically every major city, sanctioned by the law of the land. Same sex unions are being recognized and openly endorsed by both governments and private enterprise! And, in many schools, our youth are now being educated as to the diversity of available life styles!

The very idea of the culture of life, recognizing the dignity and sanctity of life from its conception to natural death, is foreign to so many people worldwide. The very idea of wholesome family values, recognizing the dignity and sanctity of marriage only between one man and one woman, embracing the complementarity of the sexes as being open to new life, is now falling on so many deaf ears!

In our sinfulness, we have crucified the innocent Lamb, who was led to the slaughter, for as Peter reminds us in our First Reading today from the Acts of the Apostles, “Therefore let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Then, Peter goes on to say, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”

And Jesus’ words, “A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy…” rings so true for those who are spiritually blind, like the Pharisees to whom Jesus was addressing His words in today’s Gospel, like those who turn their hearts cold to the will of God in their lives, mercilessly continuing to scourge His Innocence with their sins! And that is why it is so important that we take the time to quiet the busyness of our own minds and hearts and listen to the voice of our true Shepherd in our lives.

For when we listen to His voice, then Peter’s words, in our Second Reading today, help us to reflect upon from where we came and where we should now be, “For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.”

Jesus, in His discourse on the Beatitudes, taught us, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” Thirsting for God, and placing His Truth at the very heart of yours and my way of life, will ultimately be quenched by His gift of eternal life.

“I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.”

We need to not only live His Truth in the very core of our everyday way of life, but we also need to keep in prayer all those who close their hearts and souls to all that the Holy Spirit teaches us through our Holy Church. We need to pray for not only those who have, for whatever reason, walked away from our family of faith, but also those who do “hunger and thirst for righteousness” and are not afforded that chance of knowing God in His fullness.

There are so many people in our world today who thirst for truth and justice in their lives. There are so many people who, like sheep without a shepherd, thirst to know God better; and yet, unfortunately, are not given that opportunity, oftentimes due to no fault of their own.

In the Book of Revelation, it tells us that one day, you and I “will not hunger or thirst anymore…For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Until the fullness of that time dawns upon us, we need to keep our hearts open, listening to the voice of our Shepherd, the Good Shepherd! In addition, we, too, need to continuously pray for those sheep who feel as though they have no shepherd in their lives and who long for peace and consolation for their souls.

It is Jesus’ will that He lead each of us to those streams of life-giving waters, for He truly is the Gate through which each one of us will find that peace and rest for which we so desperately yearn!

In our hunger and in our thirst, Jesus says to you and me in today’s Gospel, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” In His Name, may we truly be satisfied!

May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you.

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Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.

Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.

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Scripture for the Day

  • “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.” (John 10:1-2)
  • “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.” (John 10:9ab)
  • “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me; he restores my soul. He guides me along right paths for the sake of his name.” (Psalm 23:1-3)
  • “As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God.” (Psalm 42:2-3a)
  • “Therefore let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified… Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” (Acts 2:36, 38a)
  • “He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:24-25)
  • “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)
  • “A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy…I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:10a, 11)
  • “They will not hunger or thirst anymore…For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:16a, 17)
  • “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10b)

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Prayer for the Day

“God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
though Your people walk in the valley of darkness,
no evil should they fear;
for they follow in faith the call of the Shepherd
whom You have sent for their hope and strength.

“Attune our minds to the sound of His voice,
lead our steps in the path He has shown,
that we may know the strength of His outstretched arms
and enjoy the Light of Your Presence forever.

“We ask this in the Name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.”

Alternate Prayer for the Fourth Sunday of Easter (Roman Breviary)

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