REFLECTION | Jesus, the Gate: ‘Whoever enters through me will be saved’

May 7, 2017 - 10:29 PM
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InterAksyon file photo by Bernard Testa.

Jesus said, “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. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hears his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follows him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”

Although Jesus used this figure of speech, the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them. So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
—John 10:1-10

The Scriptures are full of images and metaphors, symbols and symbolisms. The narratives in the Scriptures are full of stories—real and sometimes imaginary or futuristic. The Scriptures are a collection of testimonies that are experiential and idyllic.

The fourth Sunday of Easter is celebrated as Good Shepherd Sundays. The images of the gate and shepherd were common among the different peoples and races in the Old Testament as there were shepherds and sheepfold in every village at most. A shepherd is considered strong, courageous, and resolute as his work is to defend his sheep from the wolves and from the thieves. Shepherding is a lowly yet honorable work as David, their great king, was a shepherd himself.

The shepherd knows his sheep and the sheep hears and knows the voice of the shepherd. The shepherd will never allow a sheep from other fold to join his own flock. The shepherd is likewise the gatekeeper as he will only allow his sheep to come in. Those who do not enter through the gate are thieves and robbers for the shepherd and the sheep pass through the gate. The sheep follows the shepherd, thieves and wolves don’t.

The thieves and robbers’ motives are to steal, slaughter, and destroy the sheep. Extremely opposite from the Good Shepherd who gives life, nurtures life, nourishes life, and provides it more abundantly. The gospel account gives us two powerful and meaningful images of God as the gate and the shepherd are two images to ponder on.

One can only be saved when we belong to God, when we enter into a relationship through Jesus, the gate, and the shepherd.

Jesus is the Gate that one enters through. He is the voice that the sheep listens to. Jesus is the Shepherd, the good one. Those who believe in Jesus and who follow Him will be saved. The shepherd will bring the sheep in pastureland and in stream to quench their thirst. The shepherd gives life to the sheep; the thief leads the sheep to its death.

We are also gates and shepherds in our own ways, for our own families, in workplaces and communities.

We can open our heart to accept and understand people from where they are. Like the Good Shepherd, we can be a blessing to everyone we meet. We can inspire people to go on with life. We can live our life to the fullest so we can share life with others. With Jesus, as our gate and shepherd, we can give hope and be an inspiration to others.

When we hear God’s voice, we will surely take the right path towards God through the gate, who is Jesus. We do not only hear but listen carefully to our shepherd, Jesus for we are assured of life. We should be cautious in hearing others’ voice for they might be from those who steal, slaughter, and destroy life. For there are a lot of thieves and robbers around who pretend to be real shepherds, let us then be guarded and be vigilant.

In this Easter season, let us pray, reflect, and ask ourselves:

Have I accepted Jesus as my only gate, my only way to God, the Father, “Abba”?

Am I really convinced that only through Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life can bring me to real salvation and life?

Have I listened heartily to Jesus who is the Good Shepherd?

Can I actually say and declare that I belong in the fold of the Good Shepherd?

Am I willing to give life and have it full and abundant for others? Am I willing and ready to share my life lovingly with others?

Prayer
Almighty and Ever-living God, be our gate, guide, and defender from all forms of harm and danger, especially from the modern wolves, thieves and robbers.

Like the Good Shepherd, we promise to be good sheep who listen, obey and follow the will and the ways of Jesus the Good Shepherd. May we enter into a relationship of love with and among our brothers and sisters, and be counted among your holy people, your good sheep. May the Risen Christ be our light and guard. This we ask through Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you, and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

Intention
Let us pay for all our Church leaders, the modern shepherds together with the faithful (flock). May they find the Good Shepherd as their model of leadership and management who is humble, and always willing to defend the people (sheep) who are entrusted to their care.