John 10:1-10

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

protect us?

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

magnanimous love.

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.

St. Paul's is located at 33 W. Dixon Ave, Dayton, OH 45419; phone: 937-293-1154; fax: 937-293-3723 Office hours are Monday - Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.