Today in his Gospel, Jesus speaks of his followers as his sheep.
He calls himself the gate for the sheep.
However, he also speaks today of two other distinct roles: the gatekeeper and the shepherd.
… whoever enters through the GATE is the SHEPHERD of the sheep.
The GATEKEEPER opens it for him….
Gate, gatekeeper and shepherd: all three are in the service of the sheep.
The goal is that the sheep might have life and have it more abundantly.
Christ is not speaking of making us abundantly rich in the mere measure of the world as it presently is.
He is speaking of a life that can include but goes beyond what the present world can contain or imagine.
If we settle for less, then we throw ourselves into what Christ describes as the sway of thieves and robbers who come only to steal and slaughter and destroy.
Our trouble is not that we want too MUCH.
Our trouble is that we settle for too LITTLE.
God wants to give us new and everlasting life in abundance.
He wants to give us himself.
If we are to receive God himself, and receive new and everlasting life in abundance, then, as Christ tells us today, we need to recognize his voice, to listen to him and to follow him.
However, what is this life that God in Christ wants us to have more abundantly?
We see this life NEW, ABUNDANT and EVERLASTING in the resurrection of Christ himself.
God’s plan in Christ is for our bodies no longer to suffer any weakness, fatigue, disease, pain, disability, injury or even death.
NEW, ABUNDANT and EVERLASTING LIFE from God will banish all fear and sadness from us.
Then we will grasp truth, reason and understanding with clarity and without mistake.
We will arrive at choices and decisions without hesitation and without departure from truth, goodness, unity and beauty.
The new, abundant and everlasting life God wants us to have will echo with joy in every fiber of our being— of our feelings, our thoughts, our choices and our bodies.
Unfortunately, sin presses an ancient, dragging claim on us.
Because the world and humanity have never been the same since the origin of sin, we do feel it to be hard or downright impossible to follow God on the road to heaven.
So it is that God in Christ came down from heaven to join us, as it were, on the road to hell.
He never sinned— but he chose to pick up the entire weight and history of sin.
He willingly carried it with freedom and personal innocence, freely letting it press him unto death.
Having carried all the history and reality of sin into DEATH, he left it there: he left sin DEAD.
God in Christ left sin so dead that the human body in Christ was now free to rise from death no longer able to suffer anything.
He left sin so dead that the human mind and the human will in Christ is set free of all confusion and error, free to rise from death into no other experience outside of truth, goodness, beauty, unity and joy— and all of that without measure or end.
As he promised in his Gospel today: I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.
We have two choices here.
On the one hand, we can believe his promise and follow him through whatever work or crucifixion we might meet along the way of growing freedom into resurrection life in everlasting abundance.
On the other hand, we can doubt his promise and settle for less— but then we rob ourselves.
Here in his Gospel and here in his Eucharist, he asks us to make the choice.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved….
God in Christ gives us his Body and Blood as his new and everlasting alliance with us— the invincible alliance, the covenant that has the power to free and raise up our bodies, our hearts, minds and wills— if we believe and say “Amen” to it in all the details of our daily lives.
Let us not waste the Eucharistic choice he offers us.
Turn. Love. Repeat.
Dear Readers of “Turn. Love. Repeat.”
California where I reside had a new law go into effect on January 1, 2020. California Assembly Bill 5 forbids freelance writers, editors and photographers from providing more than 34 content submissions to a media organization per year unless the organization hires the freelancer as a salaried employee. Patheos is a media organization, and I am a freelancer. So now I must limit my posts to 34 per year, or 1 post about every 10 days.
So as not to exceed my legal limit, between my postings here at Patheos I will publish my “extra” pieces at my personal blog, Monk Notes.