ACTS 2:14A, 36-41 | 1 PETER 2:20B-25 | JOHN 10:1-10
We’ve spent three Sundays reflecting on accounts of the resurrection of Jesus. All three of them took place on a Sunday, connecting them to Christian gathering day, the day we gather for the breaking of the bread. In each appearance Jesus continued to minister. At the tomb he called Mary Magdalene’s name rescuing her from the darkness that held her spirit hostage. Then he showed himself to the disciples who were in hiding in the upper room. Giving them hope when he breathed his Spirit into them giving them the power to forgive sin. He broke Thomas’ disbelief as he invited him to touch the marks of his crucifixion. Finally, he enlightened the two disciples fleeing to Emmaus to the meaning of the scriptures, and opened their eyes to his presence as he broke the bread with them.
This week Jesus reveals himself to us through a descriptive image: “I am the gate for the sheep.” To understand what he’s revealing about himself we have to understand shepherding in the Middle East at his time.
Sheep were raised primarily for their wool not for slaughter. So, shepherds were committed to their care and safety for their entire lives, ten to twelve years. The shepherd named all his sheep, and his sheep would respond to the call of their name. They relied on the shepherd to lead them to grazing pastures and water. He carried a sling shot and a club for protection against wild animals and robbers. The shepherd was with his sheep day and night. He never let them roam unattended. At night he would gather the sheep into communal pens, and to protect the sheep, he would sleep in the entrance to the pen. He would literally become “the gate for the sheep.” A wolf or wild animal would have to walk over the shepherd to get to the sheep.
By defining himself as the “gate” Jesus pledges his undying commitment to us. He’ll walk with us, strengthening, supporting and
protecting us during dark times. He’ll lead us to green pastures where he’ll spread a banquet for us at which he himself is the bread broken and shared. He’ll lead us to those restful, living waters that quench our thirst for eternal life
ANOTHER REFLECTION ON THE DISCIPLES AT EMMAUS
“Supper at Emmaus”
Surely they have seen him somewhere before, this stranger that they picked up on the road to Emmaus. The three of them discussed the recent crucifixion of Jesus, and now he may still be alive after his tomb was found empty. Yet in their hearts, they were not quite sure that Jesus was the son of God and divine. Still, they were unknowing disciples and followed Christ. They had loved him. Now they were walking with this stranger, and all three were talking about the crucifixion. He was explaining scripture to them as they had never before heard it or understood it. “Stay with us!” they pleaded as they reached Emmaus, and he was about to travel on. “The night Is coming.” They said. “We do not know you, but we want you to eat with us. We loved this Jesus, and now there is nothing beyond us but darkness, but when Jesus was alive there was the promise of heaven.”
Margaret Gilbert is a parishioner and published poet. You see her in church regularly. She serves as the cross bearer at the Sunday 4 PM Mass. Thank you, Margaret, for sharing your reflection.