Suy Niệm > My seven-minute homily - index
My Seven-Minute-Homily, May 15th 2011
Fourth Sunday of Easter Sunday, Year A
Acts of the Apostles 2.14,36-41; The First Letter of St. Peter 2,20-25
and the Gospel of St. John 10, 1-10
The Psalm 23, a famous Psalm made by King David to reflect on the protection of God for his life. The Psalm also gives us a deep appreciation to the loving care of God for all of us. Take one minute to recite the Psalm so that we can make it go to deep down in our hearts.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In green pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
He refreshes my soul.
He guides me in right paths
For his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
Jesus in the Gospel today tells us that he came precisely so that may live with that life, peace and happiness described in Psalm 23. I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full. We are in the Easter season. We have celebrated Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus had to die to himself to live his new life. Jesus has shown us how to live life to the very full we must die to ourselves in order to rise to new life.
The Psalm and the Season of Easter really gives us a full meaning of life. Jesus is Good Shepherd and he lies down his life for human salvation. He comes so that we can live and have an abundant life. Only dying to ourselves as we follow Jesus will lead us to the happiness we seek. Jesus teaches us that the way to happiness lies not in filling up each of our wants and needs and desires. The way to happiness lies in a very different choice of life; the way to happiness may be found in sacrificing and taking up our cross with Jesus, reproducing the life of Jesus in our own lives. And so Jesus says, I am the gate. No-one can have eternal life and happy life if they don’t come through me as gate.
During the time of Jesus in the land of Palestine, during the evening, the shepherds would bring the sheep down from the hills to protect them at night when the wolves and mountain lions were hunting their prey. At night, the shepherds would gather their sheep together and lead them into large pens. These large pens were called sheepfolds. These sheepfolds or sheep pens had large walls which were made out of rocks. The walls of the sheep pens were about five feet high. On the top of the four stone walls were briars or prickly branches. The shepherds put the prickly briars along the top of the wall, as it was like our barbed wire today on the top of walls. The result of all of this is that the mountain lions and wolves couldn’t get inside the sheep pen.
The door way was about two feet wide actually ii was not wide at all. It was a small entry. It was like one small gap in the wall. We can have some questions so that we might understand better the meaning of the Gospel with the title “Jesus is Good Shepherd or Jesus is the gate of the sheepfold. What was the door made out of? This is crucial. Was the door made out of wood that a carpenter had constructed? Was it made out of wool, a wool blanket that a weaver had woven? Was it made out of stones that the shepherd had piled up? Was it made of out sticks, all laced together to form a barrier? Was it made out of leather, a hide from the sheep? Was it made out of linen, like a linen cloth hanging there in the gap in the wall? What was the door made out of? Wood! Wool! Stones! Sticks! Leather! Linen! This is the key to the story.
Actually there was no gate! The shepherdhimself was the gate or door. At night, the shepherd himself would sleep there in the small opening of the rock wall. He would sleep there, by the fire, with his rod and staff. If any mountain lion would come, the shepherd would fight it off with his weapons, his short stocky club or his long pointed staff. Literally and actually, the shepherd himself was the gate.
Therefore, the meaning of this parable of Jesus, in John 10, is unlocked when we start to think of Jesus himself as being the gate. Yes, Jesus is the door open to happiness. Jesus is the way to eternal life. Jesus is the gate to green pasture, to living water, to an abundant life…In him, he has everything we need. Why we don’t come to him so that we can lie down under the loving care of the Lord.
You can tell me that what I am saying is just an ideal, not realistic one. It is very true! However we are old enough to get experience of life. Nowhere we can lay down except in the divine mercy of God. No one we can trust except in the Lord who is the way the truth and the life. No future we can expect, except eternal life in the future. He is the gate of the sheepfold. He is a wide open door to welcome sheep who is still in the flock and also he goes out to look for the lost sheep. All should be in one sheepfold under the leadership of one Good shepherd.
As we pray today for vocations let us also pray for a better understanding and appreciation of the life and work of ordained ministers so that more and more people avail themselves of the grace which God makes available through them. Let us also pray that more young people will be drawn to follow in their footsteps and generously answer the call of God.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. The Lord is the gate of the sheepfold. May all be one, one shepherd, one sheepfold and one leader! May the Lord, good Shepherd send more and more shepherd to us. Amen
Father Great Rice