The Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

John 10:1-10

The Door of the Sheepfold

Here is truly one of our Lord’s most beautiful discourses in all of Scripture.  In this chapter, he compares himself, first to the “door” of the sheepfold, and then to the “shepherd” of the sheep.  Today, we take up the door.  I am told that the “door” of the sheepfold was the passageway into the fold.  A fold consisted of some kind of enclosure, perhaps a walled courtyard or even a cave.  The gatekeeper opens to the shepherd who brings the sheep into the fold.  The sheep know the shepherd’s voice and his alone; they neither know, nor will they follow another.

But at this point in the analogy, the emphasis is on the door.  The passage begins, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.”  And a few verses later, “Truly, truly I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.  All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the door.  If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and come out and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.  I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

If you have ever read John Bunyan’s classic, The Pilgrim’s Progress, the beginning of Christian’s journey from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City is only through the gate.  Others attempt to go on the journey by jumping over the wall, but there journey always ends badly.  We can only begin our journey through the one door, and that door is Jesus Christ.  Those who jump over the wall are seeking the Celestial City by a false path, the path of easiness and least resistance where no sacrifice is required, no sin for which to repent; or the path of a false prophet, be he Muhammad or Buddha, or some “Christian” who preaches Jesus as one among many, or who clutters up the path with false doctrine.  Jesus is the only way to salvation, the only door; every other “door” is a thief and a robber, who only comes to fleece the sheep, kill and destroy.  Our Lord comes to grant us abundant life, not easy life, but a consecrated life, a holy life, a life like his.

The good news is that the sheep know this because they know his voice.  This is a beautiful promise about our security.  We have an anointing, the Holy Spirit, who sees to it that we will not be fooled.  We have his word in the Scriptures to show us the path.  As Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).  And he is our door, our path, our entrance into life.

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