My Dear Friends,
What are the main concerns and fears; the goals and aspirations of our lives in these strange days? Psychologists, philosophers and sociologists tell us that our number one concern is SAFETY. We feel insecure. Our Second most immediate concern is RELATIONSHIPS; and our Third major concern is MEANINGLESSNESS. It is in our search for security, and loving relationships, and ultimate fulfilment that we remain vulnerable.
In the lectionary passage prescribed for last Sunday (St. John’s Gospel chapter 10) we read at verse 4: “The sheep follow him because they know his voice.” Again, at verse 9: “I am the Door; anyone who comes into the fold through me shall be safe. He shall go in and out and find pasturage.”
There are many types of Door. Some exist to keep people out; and others are to keep them in. Some doors are welcoming; others are formidable. We welcome the protection that our doors afford us. If we are incarcerated, however, the door restricts us and takes away our freedom.
Jesus spoke to his disciples about being the DOOR to the Sheepfold. Now, clearly, there is a concern about SAFETY here. This is an image of security and protection. Sheepfolds were built for safety. Surrounded by a solid stone wall, the shepherd would lie down across the opening. Anything going out or coming in had, quite literally, to go through him. This is a declaration of God’s power and protection.
The sheep hear his voice. They know him and follow him. In other words, there is a strong and trusting RELATIONSHIP between a shepherd and his sheep. The shepherd tends them carefully, leads them safely, and protects them lovingly. We all share in this search for personal affirmation; this longing to be valued as an individual. Jesus assures us that if a shepherd and his flock can have such a living, loving, and enriching relationship – then, how much deeper and stronger is the relationship we can have with God.
It is also true to say that we all desperately search for a real sense of meaning, purpose and significance in a seemingly pointless existence. People want their lives to count for something. They want life to mean something. This is particularly so in this period of lockdown when things seem so futile.
Where do we go, and what do we turn to, in order to find meaning, fulfilment, significance and purpose in life? Jesus said: “I am the Door. Anyone who comes into the fold through me shall be safe. He shall go in and out and find pasturage. I have come that men may have life and may have it in all its fullness.” We must discern the Door through which we have to go in order to experience that satisfying and fulfilling assurance and experience.
The Scriptures point us to something of ultimate, infinite and eternal significance. God’s love and purpose, his protection and fulfilment are always available to us. A sense of relationship and belonging. A sense of security. A sense of purpose. All this is open to us, to enter if we will. Jesus is the Door – the key to it all; the Way in. Its simply a matter of trusting him and believing in him and following him.
This passage is about having something of real value and significance and purpose and meaning to our existence. Those who live in the presence of Christ – and enter into life through him – need have no anxiety about their security, or their relationships, or the ultimate meaning of their lives. Their destiny is affirmed and secure.
Liz joins me in sending our love to you all.