I am the door

So Jesus again said to them, “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 heed them. I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

John 10:7-10

This gospel is from John chapter 10, which is sometimes called the “Good Shepherd Discourse.” In the lines that come after this excerpt, Jesus explicitly says “I am the Good Shepherd.” This self-proclamation would have been important to the Jews of Jesus’ time. For one thing, the people were very familiar with sheep and shepherds. Jesus was speaking to them with imagery that was relevant and made sense to them. More importantly, for the Israelites, there was connection between shepherding and leading God’s People. King David, the great Israelite king, was first a shepherd. The prophets had strong condemnations for shepherds who lead the people of God astray. The Old Testament foretold a a “good” shepherd who would lead the people back to God- protecting them, guiding them, providing for them.

But this in these lines from John’s gospel, Jesus does not call Himself “the Good Shepherd,” that comes later. Here, He calls himself the “door” or in other translations, the “gate.” How is Jesus a gate?

I am the door; if anyone enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

There is one mediator between God and man. That is Jesus Christ. There is one, and only one savior. That is Jesus Christ.

Take notice, He is not the “gate keeper” or “door opener.” To live fully and abundantly, it is not enough that He open the door. For He tells us, that we must enter into and through Him.

Reflection

The Church is the “Mystical Body of Christ.” To enjoy salvation, and the fruits of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, to have life and have it abundantly, we must enter into His Body- the Church, and then we may draw our life from Him.

Activity

Watch this video to learn more about shepherding

Who are my mother and my brothers?

His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside asking for you.” But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. [For] whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Mark 3:31-35

Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior of all. As the Creed tells us, He is :

the only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made.

Nicene Creed

It is a great gift that anyone who is baptized as a Christian becomes a child of God and an heir to Heaven. In Baptism, we, or our parents and godparents, on our behalf, reject sin and profess our faith in God the Father, and in His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. We acknowledge our belief in the Holy Spirit and the holy Catholic Church. Guided by the Spirit, the Church continues Jesus saving work on earth. By Baptism, we enter this Church and become His brother or sister. This makes us destined for Heaven and eternal happiness with God and the saints.

In this passage, Jesus tells us what is necessary to remain a child of God, a member of his family, destined for Heaven.

We must do the will of God.

Do you want to be a brother or sister of Jesus? Do you want to enjoy his friendship, guidance, and care? Do you want to inherit Heaven and an eternity of happiness and peace?

Do the will of His Father.

Reflection

Do I strive to do the will of God the Father? How can I know His Will?

Activity

God reveals his will in Sacred Scripture and in the teachings of the Church. Before you go to bed tonight, look over this examination of conscience and see if you are following God’s will. http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/sacraments-and-sacramentals/penance/upload/Examination-of-Conscience.pdf

God’s will be done!

Mt 7:21-23

“Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in yur name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.'”

Jesus is very clear hear about what it takes to enter the kingdom of heaven. We must do the will of the Father. We can pray. We can call ourselves Christians. We can exercise the gifts that he gives us and do so in his name.  None of that will matter if we are “doers of evil.”  Heaven is not for those who perform mighty deeds, show up at prayers services or the mass, or rattle off words of prayers. Heaven is for those seek and do the will of God.

God’s will – this alone matters. It should be the driving force in our life. We should tirelessly, day in day out, moment by moment, decision by decision, seek and follow the will of God. This is our path to heaven. This alone, will make us happy.

Reflection

I think of myself as a Christian.  What does that mean?  Would others think of me as a Christian based on my actions?

Prayer

For the next three days, as often as you think of it, pray this prayer throughout your

walter_ciszek_sj_-_he_leadeth_me

day:  God’s will be done! 

The frustrations of the Savior

Matthew 17:14-20

A man came up to Jesus, knelt down before him, and said,
“Lord, have pity on my son, who is a lunatic and suffers severely;
often he falls into fire, and often into water.
I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
Jesus said in reply,
“O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you?
How long will I endure you?
Bring the boy here to me.”
Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him,
and from that hour the boy was cured.
Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said,
“Why could we not drive it out?”
He said to them, “Because of your little faith.
Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you will say to this mountain,
‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Continue reading

If your hand causes you to sin…

Mark 9:42-48

Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone
were put around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed
than with two hands to go into Gehenna,
into the unquenchable fire.
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off.
It is better for you to enter into life crippled
than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.
Better for you to enter into the Kingdom of God with one eye
than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna,
where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

Commentary

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, than with two hands to go into Gehenna.

These are hard words! Is this really from Jesus, the one who loves us perfectly. Is this from the mouth of God? Remember as St. John tells us, God is love. How can the God, who is love itself speak this way?

It is because he loves us that he uses such strong language. Hell is real and it horrific. God does not want any of his little ones to go there. Sin is bad and if we choose it, we turn away from God and put ourselves on the path to never-ending suffering in Hell. God loves us so much, that he wants us to understand how seriously we endanger ourselves if we sin.

So does he want us to maim ourselves? NO! we are sacred and holy. But, we must understand that the damage that sin does to us, the destruction which it causes and the horrific suffering of hell are far worse than missing a hand, a foot, or an eye.

Jesus will come again

Matthew 24:42-44

Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.

We profess our faith every time we pray the Creed.  We can think of the Creed as the most basic “list” of all that we believe. Each Sunday we say :

He [Jesus] ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his Kingdom will have no end.

Jesus will come again. This world will end.  When Jesus returns, he will have power over all things and every one. Every single person will be judged, and there will be no tolerance of sin, death and evil. Those who refuse to accept Him and His Kingship will be eternally damned, but those who are honest and humble will acknowledge their guilt, apologize, and accept Jesus’s mercy and forgiveness. To these He will give eternal happiness and an everlasting share in His Kingdom.

Do we love as Jesus commands?

Matthew 22:34-40

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law, tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

Everything that we believe, all that the Church teaches us about how to live is summed up in and based on these two great commandments. Jesus is the Lord of Love, and if we wish to follow him, we must love as He commands. This command requires such complete and utter selflessness. The perfect example of this humble submission to the law of love is Jesus himself. His love lead Him all the way to the cross, where He suffered and died for us. He is our model and our proof that Love exists. In Him, and from Him we find strength to overcome our selfish inclinations.

Are you envious because I am generous?

Jesus told his disciples this parable:

Matthew 20:1-16

“The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard.

Going out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’So they went off.

And he went out again around noon, and around three o’clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o’clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,beginning with the last and ending with the first.’

When those who had started about five o’clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour,and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’

He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’

Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”


Commentary

         Envy is sadness over the good that another receives. Instead of being happy for the good of another, or content with what we have, we believe that we are deprived of something that is due to us.  In this passage, the laborers who were first chosen, given in to envy.:

…when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour,and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’

            Notice a few things. They are looking at what the others received instead of peacefully awaiting their own compensation. They “grumble” against the landowner, even though they were fortunate to be chosen in the first place. What if they had been waiting all day and had never been hired? Clearly the landowner saw some good potential in them from the very beginning. And what is it that they say to him? “…you have made them equal to us,” They clearly did not respect the others and were affronted that the landowner would treat them as equals.

          Despite their envy and lack of charity toward the landowner and toward the other workers, our Lord gently rebukes them and warns them to not let this sentiment grow and give way to further sin:

‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go.

And then He reminds them that all that they have received, all that each laborer has received, both the opportunity to work and the recompense for work well done is from Him.

For Contemplation

When we are tempted by envy, we make look at the Lord and all the good that he does with us, in us and for us and say “Thank you!”

the Will of the His heavenly Father

Matthew 12:46-50

While Jesus was speaking to the crowds,
his mother and his brothers appeared outside,
wishing to speak with him.
Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside,
asking to speak with you.”
But he said in reply to the one who told him,
“Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?”
And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said,
“Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father
is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

“…Whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

The Will of God is everything for the Christian.
It is light in darkness. It is the clarity in confusion. It is solid ground in turmoil. It is hope in distress. It is joy in sadness.

There is so much noise and distraction, so many choices and so many different things that vie for our attention in our lives that we often feel confused. Amidst it all, we want a simple rule or a pithy saying to hold on to, words to live by etc. One can see them all over- on bumper stickers, coffee mugs, posters and painted signs for house decor.

For the Christian, it is quite simple. We must do the will of His heavenly Father. To discover the Will of God for ourselves and to embrace it with our whole being, that is to fully live.

They scurried about the country and brought their sick

Gospel Mk 6:53-56

After making the crossing to the other side of the sea,

Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret

and tied up there.

As they were leaving the boat, people immediately recognized him.

They scurried about the surrounding country

and began to bring in the sick on mats

to wherever they heard he was.

Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered,

they laid the sick in the marketplaces

and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak;

and as many as touched it were healed.

In Jesus time, there was no TV, no Internet, no cell phones, no phones at all.

How did they recognize him? How did they know about Him?

The people heard about Jesus. Word travelled quickly. Everyone was talking about Jesus. They had heard that he was moving about the area, teaching, driving out demons, and curing others. They heard that he was not like the other leaders. He was humble, gentle, and kind. He cared deeply about the people. He eased their suffering.

When the people heard that Jesus had arrived at their town, they were so excited! Everyone wanted to see him, to be near to him. They brought those who were sick and what wonderful hopes they had! Just to touch the edge of his cloak would be enough.