Jesus declares: I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. [John 10:9] To what extent, do you suppose, is this a scandal? Perhaps at first hearing, this claim sounds comforting and gracious. Upon further reflection, however, maybe it comes off as exclusive and even pretentious. Naturally, you and I wound never admit to that in the context of community. Maybe, though, we are reserving a bit of skepticism or even suspicion when we consider the implications of what Jesus says here. Can't we just co-exist, as the bumper sticker exhorts? Why is it necessary to be so specific?
Elsewhere, Jesus claims to be the way, the truth, and the life. "Nobody comes to the Father except through me." [see John 14:6ff]
Or, consider this one from the gospel according to Matthew: "For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it." [ see Matthew 7:13-14]
I suspect on this "Good Shepherd Sunday" we would rather focus on Jesus as the Good Shepherd rather than Jesus as the gate. It sure would be more fun to preach! Imagining Jesus as a kindly shepherd is comforting in stressful times. (Besides, wouldn't it be more in keeping with the theme of Mother's Day?)
Take a few moments to read over the scripture passages cited below. What do you think? How does it feel to be compared to sheep? Are we willing to live by the vision set before us? Can we make it our own?
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FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
May 11, 2014
Prayer of the Day
O God our shepherd,
you know your sheep by name
and lead us to safety through the valleys of death.
Guide us by your voice,
that we may walk in certainty and security
to the joyous feast prepared in your house,
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.
1 Peter 2:19-25