“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 hear 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 follow 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 cam so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” – John 10:1-10
That was the Gospel reading from this past Sunday. Father Peter Mussett gave a wonderful homily that I’ve been pondering and meditating upon ever since Mass Saturday night. He said that God loves us too much to leave us where we are. Sometimes He has to move us, shepherd us to greener pastures so that we can continue to be fed.
Do you ever feel like you are running at a locked door? Beating your head up against a wall? Try and try, but just can’t succeed? (Now I’m beginning to sound like a cheesy ad for a self-help book or a late-night infomercial.) Perhaps you are trying to feed yourself in a pasture that is no longer green. Heaven knows I’ve felt this a lot lately, which is why this reading and homily hit me upside the head this weekend. I’m trying to feed myself (or be fed, however you want to look at it) in a pasture that simply isn’t green.
How often are people compared to sheep in the Bible? Quite often. Why? Sheep are dumb. [at least that’s what my theology classes taught me!] Sheep have to be led, they have to be shepherded, and so do we. Sheep, left to their own devices, would continue grazing in a field that is dead and can offer them nothing to eat. Sheep, left to their own devices, die, quite quickly. So, if you find yourself feeling like you are spinning your wheels, take a step back and as yourself – is God calling me, leading me to a greener pasture? Its not necessarily the “grass is greener on the other side” notion, but a real question, perhaps a real calling from God.
The Good Lord knows this is where I’ve been lately. I’m eating and eating and not being filled. So much in my life is about to change, and more and more he’s showing me that just about EVERYTHING in my life is going to change. I’m being called to a different field, I can’t take this or that blade of grass with me when I follow Him to the new pasture. Sometimes, we are only moving a little to the left or right and we can be fed. Sometimes, the whole pasture is dead and we have to move to a completely new place to be fed. Its different for everyone. The question then becomes not, “how far away is the next field?”, but rather, “how far am I willing to follow God, listen to His voice, trusting that He will lead me to a greener, richer pasture?” And this is where the Catholic Church ROCKS. The answer is in the psalm from this Sunday, “The Lord is my shepherd…in verdant 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…you spread the table before me in the sight of my foes; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows…I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come” (Psalm 23, NAB).
Lord, lead me by your still waters. Shepherd me to greener pastures. Speak your words into my heart that I would have the courage to follow you. I am your sheep, help me to know your voice. Move me where you will so that I can be fed and you can refresh my soul. AMEN.