10“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does
not enter the sheepfold by the gate but
climbs in by another way is a thief and a
bandit. 2 The one who enters by the gate is
the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper
opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear
his voice. He calls his own sheep by name
and leads them out. 4 When he has brought
out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and
the sheep follow him because they know his
voice. 5 They will not follow a stranger, but
they will run from him because they do not
know the voice of strangers.” 6 Jesus used
this figure of speech with them, but they did
not understand what he was saying to
them. 7 So again Jesus said to them, “Very
truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the
sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves
and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to
them. 9 I am the gate. Whoever enters by
me will be saved, and will come in and go
out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only
to steal and kill and destroy. I came that
they may have life, and have it abundantly.
Jesus is angry. He watched as a
group of Pharisees drove out of the
Temple in Jerusalem a man born blind
and now healed. They excommunicated
the man from his religion and his society
for being healed on the Sabbath, as well
as being unhelpful in trying to discredit
and vilify the Rabbi from Galilee, Jesus.
Jesus responds by teaching loudly
enough for those Pharisees to hear. He
talks of sheep, a shepherd and a gate.
These are all common images for the
people listening to him.
The crowd is aware of the way sheep
are often kept safe at night within a
fenced-in area. They know that thieves
and bandits try to take things not
belonging to them.
And, now they hear Jesus suggesting
that the pious Pharisees are thieves and
bandits doing harm to God’s people and
trying to steal them away from God’s
embrace – just as they inflicted harm on
the man once blind by excommunicating
him from community.
Jesus continues to teach and the
group of Pharisees steam. Jesus infers
that he is the shepherd of God’s people.
His sheep know his voice. They follow,
trust and find safety.
Every time I hear this gospel
reading, I’m taken back 50 years and 600
miles from Dayton to the family farm 40
minutes northeast of Kansas City,
Around age 8, it connected within
me that my Daddy’s cattle knew his
voice. He could walk right up to most of
his 300 head of cattle, talking or even
singing, and the cattle would just stand
there calmly looking at Daddy. Some of
the cattle let him scratch behind their ears
– and would rub up against him as if
trying to give him a hug. Instinctively
they knew he was their source of food and
There were times when he would
have to get up late at night to go chase off
coyotes or would-be thieves. I’d hear him
get up. He’d tell me to go back to bed –
and then share his adventure the next
For years, I tried to copy my Daddy.
We were the same stature, so I thought I
could fool the cattle. As they got used to
me walking among them, I, too, could get
near Daddy’s cattle, that is, until I’d open
my mouth. Then they’d run.
But the older I got the more my
voice sounded like my Daddy’s voice.
In his older age, I was blessed to
have been able to feed his cows, heifers,
steers, bulls and baby calves not only
because of my stature but because my
voice sounded like my Daddy’s –
and the cattle would come right up to me
to be fed – just as they did with my
Yes, farm animals know the voice of
their provider and protector.
Jesus goes on to say, “I am the gate
for the sheep.” This makes little sense
until we realize that in ancient times, the
shepherd or gatekeeper would use
anything at all to block the entrance to the
sheep’s pen. Sometimes, they would even
use their own body.
It was not uncommon that at night
the gatekeeper or the shepherd would
have a fire just outside the entrance to the
pen and sleep straddling the entrance.
Anyone or anything attempting to
get into the pen would have to go over the
body of the shepherd or gatekeeper. And,
normally, that wasn’t going to happen.
From the reading, three questions
come to mind:
1. Do we recognize the voice of
Jesus our Shepherd?
2. Do we hear Jesus speaking to us?
3. And, from what does Christ Jesus
Let’s be real. There are many voices in
our world attempting to distract us from
and sabotage our life- purpose of
receiving, enjoying and sharing God’s
Any voice, be it a loved one, a
teacher, an elected official, a clergy-
person, or our own internal dialogue –
any voice speaking unyieldingly about
self-interest does not speak for Jesus.
Any voice reminding us to balance
self-care with compassion-in- action for all
God’s children is being a voice of Christ
Jesus, whether they are aware of it or not.
Remember, Jesus taught us to love –
love God and love our neighbor as much
as we love our self.
When we listen for the voice of Jesus
internally encouraging and motivating us
and through the lips of others, we can
better live our purpose and resist the
distractions and temptations attempting to
pull us away from our life-purpose.
We are created to receive, enjoy and
share God’s magnanimous love revealed
in Christ Jesus. Never forget your
Listen for the voice of Jesus and
delight in the life that is freely offered –
abundant life – life within the loving
embrace of God.
Alleluia. Christ is risen.
The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.