Fourth Sunday of Easter A
Updated: May 22
John 10: 1-10
May 3, 2020
By Rev. Fr. John Tran
When I was young, I remember that we rarely locked any doors at all; at my grandparents, all outside doors were open. We were more cautious in cities, so we locked the front door, but not the back door. Today we lock all the outside doors all the time; we would not think of leaving our car door unlocked and unattended for one second. We are not so careful about the door to our souls. We leave this door unattended for hours, even days or years.
A biblical scholar tells of traveling one day in the holy land and coming across a shepherd and his sheep. He fell into conversation with him and the man showed him the fold into which the sheep were led at night. It consisted of four walls, with a way in.
Smith asked him, "This is where they go at night?"
"Yes," said the shepherd, "and when they are in there, they are perfectly safe."
"But there is no door," said Smith.
"I am the door," said the shepherd. He was not a Christian man and wasn't speaking in the language of the New Testament. He was speaking from an Arab shepherd's viewpoint.
Smith looked and him and asked, "What do you mean you are the door?"
"When the light has gone," said the shepherd, "and all the sheep are inside, I lie in that open space, and no sheep ever goes out but across my body, and no wolf comes in unless he crosses my body; I am the door."
In today’s gospel, Jesus tells us that he is the gate to the sheepfold. He says that he protects all the sheep; that they follow him because the know his voice - they also know his smell. When the shepherd is around, the sheep feel comfortable and unworried. He says, “ I know mine, and mine know me.”
We are not always so attentive to the Shepherd’s voice. There is so much around us to distract us. The ever-present sounds of the T.V., radio or music system. It has always amazed me what people who are religious will listen to on the radio or at a music performance. It sometimes amazes me what I will tolerate on T.V. or at a movie. When we do this, we have forgotten what the shepherd’s voice sounds like. We have forgotten his smell. We are so easily distracted. The problem really becomes acute when we forget the smell and the voice for days and years at a time.
We become less guarded when it comes to the danger we invite into our souls. We open ourselves up to the modern robbers and thieves that can seem so attractive. They seem to reach out to what is best in our human nature and start to draw off our zeal, love, and fervor. We become so accustomed to the cultural robbers that we let our guard down. We think: what harm can it do; after all it’s our world.
The answer is not just to walk away from our world. After all, it is the place that Jesus wants to save and make new. We are not asked to shun the world, but rather to go through the gate and check in with the gate keeper. It’s not that we lock ourselves up behind the gate, but that we keep our ear open to the shepherd who keeps the gate. His voice is the one we pounce on as we run across in our world. His voice is what will help us figure out how to make our world new. God’s grace and word are our gatekeeper; let’s listen to them. Amen