“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 10:9-10 NRSV).
As we are focusing on Jesus as the Good Shepherd today, I found myself stuck at the words, “I am the gate.” John’s Gospel is full of Jesus proclaiming “I am” about many things. “I am the bread of life.” “I am the light of the world.” “I am the way, the truth and the life.” “I am the resurrection and the life.” When Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd” that is pretty easy to think of. The words, “I am the gate,” these words are going deep for me today.
A gate can be higher or lower than a door. A gate can give us a look at what is on the other side, or it can block our view. A gate is often attached to a fence of some kind that is protecting something within. Regardless of a gates size, color, shape, with or without windows; one thing remains true. In order to take in what is beyond the gate, one must pass through it. Once that gate is opened and we pass through to the other side, we are introduced to what or who we went through the gate to see. When we are inside the gate our eyes are opened to new things. What was outside is beyond our view now. When we step inside a gate, we are now in the hands of who owns what is on that side. We are entrusted with the individual’s property, their way of life, the people they have welcomed or the animals they are caring for. Passing through a gate is risky. There is a tremendous amount of turning ourselves over the the owner of the gate and fence.
Jesus says, “I am the gate.” We often do not know or see what Jesus is the gate to. Sometimes we would rather stay outside of Jesus the gate, so that we can remain in our comfort zones. We want our freedom to roam from one place or thing to the other. We want no stability with what God has in Jesus who is The Gate.
When we put our trust in Jesus, The Gate and enter through Him, we will find that “Sheep may safely graze on pastures, where their shepherd guards them well.” (Cantata No. 208, by J.S.Bach).
The Contemplative sees Jesus, The Gate as always inviting us to pass through Him. There is no part of life where Jesus isn’t The Gate inviting us to experience new life with a new purpose in the ordinary and boring parts of life. Jesus is the Gate that invites us to enter into the other side of life; where we confront our fears and trust in God to change us into that “new creation” Paul wrote about in 2 Corinthians 5:17-18. The new creation where we know healing and reconciliation within ourselves; and are entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation to a world that is swimming in the pool of wounds that many refuse to see. Inside The Gate who is Jesus, is the opportunity for that abundant life promised to us for the taking.
“In (the Abbot’s) commands let him be prudent and considerate and whether the work which he enjoins concerns God or the world, let him be discrete and moderate, bearing in mind the discretion of holy Jacob, who said, “If I cause my flocks to be overdriven, they will all die in one day” (St. Benedict’s Rule for Monasteries, Chapter 64. p. 91-92).
What side of Jesus The Gate are you on in your present state of life?
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB