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The Good Shepherd

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.” John 14:1

Are there verses in the Bible that you find puzzling, or even troubling?

The 13th chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel, contains several familiar parables, like “The Barren Fig Tree” and “The Mustard Seed.” But it’s the one about the “Narrow Door” that I find troubling.

“’Lord, will only a few be saved?” He said to them, ‘Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to…knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, … ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’” (Luke 13:23-27)

The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids delivers a similar message. When the “foolish ones” run out of oil for their lamps, they end up being locked out of the wedding banquet. They knock on the door only to hear a voice from inside say, I do not know you” (Matthew 25:1-13).

The imagery is clear. The locked door is not just any door. It’s the door to Heaven! And, not being known is not just a mix-up with the guest list, it’s a condemnation that means eternal separation from God. That’s troubling!

Recently, I read “The Weight of Glory” by C.S. Lewis, in which he uses a closed door as a symbol of the longing in the human heart that can only be fully resolved in Heaven, a longing to be known and welcomed by God. I spent the next few days asking myself, “How do we make ourselves known to God? He already knows everything about us” (see Psalms 139).

The answer started to come together one Sunday; it was the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday. The Gospel Reading came from the beginning of John 10. “He … who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…. the sheep follow him, for they know his voice” (John 10:2-4).

It got even clearer when I went home and read more of John 10: “I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me… and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15).

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28).

St. Paul said it so simply in 1 Corinthians 8:3, “But if one loves God, one is known by him.”

When I think about standing before that eternal door, I remember those 2 troubling gospel stories. What if God doesn’t know me? But then I also remember that Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and I know that, by virtue of my Baptism, I belong to Him. I am His sheep, and He knows me. As long as I listen for my Shepherd’s voice and follow Him wherever He leads, I can be sure I am on the right path, and that one day, He will swing that narrow door wide open and welcome me home like the father of the prodigal son did, with open arms and a big party!

My most fervent hope is that, on that day, I will hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant… enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:24).

“Love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12

I remember a day my husband and I were buying a garbage can at Lowes. A woman nearby was looking at one that was way out of her reach, so my husband offered to get it down off the shelf for her. While he was doing that, she asked him about the brace on his left arm. He told her that the surgery to remove a malignant growth had left him with a wrist that didn’t work very well. She replied, “I will pray for you.” They were two complete strangers exchanging acts of kindness in the garbage can aisle at Lowes, and I am sure that made our Good Shepherd smile.               To God be the Glory

1 thought on “The Good Shepherd

  1. Wonderful, as usual. Liked the story about Don at Lowe’s.

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