January 26, 2019

So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.  All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. – John 10:7-10

shepherd and sheep

Most often the sermon text drawn from this teaching simile of the Lord is “Whoever enters by me will be saved…” , but rarely do I hear an emphasis on the rest of the sentence … “and you will come in and go out and find pasture.”  In these mellow years of reflection into which I have arrived, I have come to understand this to be a subtly stated definition of what it means “to be saved”.  We gain the liberty and we gain the ability to venture forth from our security in the Lord’s care to go exploring for fresh, green pastures, realms that nurture the abundant life.  By way of gaining liberty from fear we can all the more flourish.

Years ago I adopted a dog that had been caged for most of its life.  By the way the dog cowered when I approached her, I assumed she had often been abused.  When I arrived home with her, though the gate to her crate was always left open, she stayed near hidden in her crate.  Her fearful appraisal of the world kept her imprisoned in the ways she had known.  But as the days passed, she slowly and tentatively ventured out from that crate.  And I remember the night and the moment so vividly.  I was reading in my worn-out, brown easy chair, when I saw her venture our her crate and then take a few cautious steps toward me.  Those first cautious steps turn into a run and she jumped into my lap, her tail wagging with joy.  It was as if she had finally broken free of the shackles of her fear and discovered the joy of kindly love.

I have come to realize … that the salvation which Christ offers… is a breaking free of the shackles of fear.

Always in Christ’s Service,

Fr. Charitas de la Cruz

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