The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe, Easter Week IV-A, 03 May 2020
Acts of the Apostles 2:14, 36-41 ><)))*> 1 Peter 2:20-25 ><)))*> John 10:1-10
Starting this Sunday, we stop hearing stories of the appearances of the Risen Lord as we go back to the days before his Passion, Death, and Resurrection to reflect further on his words and teachings.
In fact, it is the same path taken by his followers after Easter when they recounted everything Jesus had done and told them as they slowly understood their meanings later in the coming of the Holy Spirt at Pentecost.
Also today is “Good Shepherd Sunday” when every year on this fourth Sunday of Easter the gospel is taken from John 10 which is about Christ’s “Good Shepherd” discourse that actually begins with him declaring he is the gate or the door for the sheep.
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 10:7-10
Entering Jesus our Gate who truly owns the sheep
Let us start our reflection today by recalling our Sunday gospel on the Fourth Week of Lent last March 22 which is about the healing of the man born blind on a sabbath day.
The healing stirred the people and the temple officials led by the Pharisees whom Jesus had hinted as being the ones truly blind who could not see God’s coming in him. As expected, the Pharisees dismissed Christ’s accusations, claiming themselves to be “clean” unlike the man born blind.
Our gospel today is the scene that immediately follows that where Jesus now speaks of himself as the gate where shepherds enter through to tend their sheep. According to the author of the gospel, Jesus was using a figure of speech in referring to himself as the gate for the sheep.
Unfortunately, the Pharisees did not understand Christ’s figure of speech, refusing to be referred to as “thieves and robbers” that Jesus had to use the emphatic “Amen, amen” to declare he is in fact the gate for the sheep.
To clearly understand his being the gate for the sheep, let us fast-forward to his last Easter appearance to Simon Peter and companions by the lake after a night of fishing when they caught nothing until Jesus told them to cast the net on the right side found in John chapter 21.
After their breakfast by the lake, Jesus asked Peter thrice, “do you love me?” and each time he would say yes, the Lord would always tell him to feed his sheep.
It was after that third query as Peter assured him of his love that Jesus told him, “Follow me” (Jn. 21:19).
Here we find the essential truth before anyone can follow Jesus, one has to love him first above all like Simon Peter!
It is only in loving Jesus can anyone truly care for his sheep who “belongs” only to Christ and nobody else.
And this is what we should pray for today as World Day of Prayer for Vocations: not only for more men and women to answer the call to priesthood and religious life but most of all, that we in the ministry love Jesus more than our vocation!
When priests and religious love more their vocation, that is when they become thieves, stealing the sheep from Jesus, claiming them to be theirs that lead to so many abuses in the church, in the liturgy, and in the ministry.
Jesus is the gate for the sheep because first of all the flock belongs to him!
And that is only when we can truly realize too why Jesus is the gate for the sheep.
How to enter Jesus our Gate
Jesus is the gate who leads his sheep to greener pastures because he is “the way and the truth and the life” (Jn.14:6). And his way is no other than the way of the Cross, of being with him in his daily suffering and death so we can be with him in his resurrection!
One of my favorite scenes of the Crucifixion is when Jesus told Dimas – the good thief who stole heaven – “today you shall be with me in Paradise” (Lk.23:43).
See my dear reader that Jesus did not tell Dimas that he would be with him in Paradise later when they die or on Easter when he rises from death.
Jesus was very clear in telling him that “today you shall be with me in Paradise”.
The today is the here and now of heaven in Jesus Christ present to us, present with us, present in us.
Jesus never promised Paradise to anyone when he was freely walking around, neither thirsty nor hungry to show us that every time we go through trials and difficulties, sufferings and pains, that is when we enter Paradise in him our Gate.
When a person suffers a long illness, he/she has already started entering Paradise long before his/her death. That is the unique grace of sickness, of suffering with Jesus and suffering in Jesus which St. Peter tells us in the second reading today:
Beloved: If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God.1 Peter 2:20
Yes, we are all into great suffering in this time of the corona virus without any clear sign yet when would this finally end.
This in itself is a clear presence of Jesus among us as our Gate: let us “follow in his footsteps” (1Pt. 2:21) to “save ourselves from this corrupt generation” (Acts 2:40) where so many shepherds in government even in the church unconsciously claiming theirs are the sheep, leading them to darkness and misery.
May we all first love the Caller, Jesus Christ our Gate and Good Shepherd, than see more our call or vocation in life that deludes us into owning his flock. Amen.
A blessed Sunday to you!