Fr. Joe Rodrigues, SDS
Province of Salvatorian Priests and Brothers

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.

Jesus said: "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 called 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 to slaughter and destroy. I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

Tthe gospel of the Lord.

Years ago I was at the parish who had a very good music director they were preparing for the special holy week services and masses. As we were gathering to rehearse there was a lot of shuffling and chatter going on and all of a sudden, the music director's eyes opened wide she gasped and she ran out of the room. Well we were startled. Did we upset her? Did she get sick? Shortly after, she returned holding the hand of her child who was wiping a tear from his cheek but smiling. “What happened?” we asked. “Well I heard my boy cry out from the playroom and I ran to see if he was okay. He just fell. He's fine.” The thing is, no one else heard his voice, except his mother with all that noise going on, she knew and heard her child's voice above all others and the child was quickly comforted with his mother's concerned voice, and her caring presence. That's exactly what happens between the shepherd and the sheep. The good shepherd knows our voice and we know the shepherd's voice. Since most of us are not familiar with the actual shepherds, we’re not aware the shepherd and the keepgate are one in the same. During the day the shepherd is overseeing and guiding the sheep into the valley. It is scarier down there, but the grass is a lot greener and more abundant and when it's night time the shepherd places a temporary fence around the sheep to protect and keep them safe so they’re not vulnerable to dangerous predators or thieves. You see sheep can't sleep if they’re afraid, but now they can sleep here in peace, because the shepherd lays his own body across the threshold of the fence, only way in or out. He becomes the sheepgate. I actually have known and lived shepherds because I had the opportunity to spend time on a farm as a child. I heard similar stories. And as Pope Francis says we shepherds in ministry should smell like our sheep, and trust me those other shepherds sure did. Now, my own mother is a good shepherd, but she smells a lot nicer. She is 85 years old and whenever I call her, she knows my voice and asks immediately, “Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating good food? You shouldn't travel alone, it's dangerous out there. Every time I call and I once asked her, I said “Mom, I’ve been on my own for 40 years and I've survived, why do you keep asking me these questions all the time?” And she responded sheepishly, “I can't help it, i'm your mother.” I finally understood and could see that her love and concern would be eternal and that she would always want to make sure I am living life, abundantly. What mother doesn't want that for her child? What good shepherd doesn't want that, for his sheep? Thank you mom. Thank you Lord.

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