Shepherd and Gate of Life

In yesterday’s gospel reading from Chapter 10 of John’s gospel (vv. 27-30) we heard Jesus describe himself as the Good Shepherd.  He leads us, guides us, feeds us and protects us.  He also calls us to be shepherds for others.

Today, in an earlier part of that same chapter (vv. 1-11), Jesus describes himself as both the shepherd and the gate through which we find both protection and nourishment.  He also distinguishes himself from “the thief,” i.e. any leader who claims to serve his people but instead fails, exploits or abuses them.  By contrast, Jesus tells his disciples that he “came that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

Jesus handed on them his life-giving mission.  It was a mission that began with his people but rapidly expanded to others, including those who had been excluded and marginalized.

This was not an easy process.  Not everyone understood it or accepted it.  Peter himself struggled with it.

But God gave him a vision.  What Peter considered unclean God made clean.  The people that Peter considered beyond the reach of the Holy Spirit God blessed with that same Spirit. 

At this mid-point of our Easter season, Jesus asks us to be instruments, not barriers to his love and grace.  He asks us to share the life that we have received in abundance.  With whom can you share that life today?