Kathleen Giffin

WORD MADE FLESH

Fourth Sunday of Easter – May 11, 2014
Acts 2.14, 36-41 | Psalm 23 | 1 Peter 2.20-25 | John 10.1-10
April 28, 2014

One of the things I have long appreciated in Roman Catholicism is our valuing of human life in all its dimensions. I'm not referencing "respect for life" but rather the stance that looks out upon all that it is to be human, accepting and embracing and declaring it to be good.

We value culture, art, music. We value our bodies, we enjoy the feast with good wine, and we value the simple loaf of bread, fresh baked. Our natural human lives, lived in nature, connected with the seasons and patterns of growth and decay is the context in which we live, and it is a way that God powerfully speaks to us.

I think that is why the Catechism says that those people who have not heard the good news of Jesus, yet live their lives well with the light that they have, are not excluded from the kingdom of God.

The opportunities in our lives to respond to goodness, to respond to love are sufficient to bring us to the perfection that is necessary to enter eternal love.

The sheep follow him because they know his voice. - John 10.4

'The sheep follow him because they know his voice.'

John 10.4

Of course, that is too simple of a statement, and much more needs to be said; my point is that we are immersed in a context that God has created.

This pattern of infancy to old age and human interactions; eating, drinking, growing, harvesting and tending sheep – all of this pattern is instructive and formative.

So we should not be surprised to find analogies in Scripture that explicitly point to lessons in ordinary living that reveal deeper meanings, deeper truth.

Growing up on a farm in Saskatchewan, I have many not-fond memories of helping to herd the cows. I'd be told to find a big stick that I could wave and then positioned in a place where the cows weren't supposed to go.

My job would be to make sure they didn't go my direction while my dad and brother would move them from behind in the direction Dad wanted them to go.

Contrast that with the image of herding sheep in this Sunday's Scriptures. Jesus identifies himself as the Good Shepherd, the one who leads his sheep to safety, the one who leads them out to the goodness of the pasture. He echoes David's grateful psalm of praise for God as shepherd that leads us through the valley of the shadow of death, providing our needs, bringing us to the eternal home of God.

This isn't moving forward because someone is waving a stick behind us; this is following the one we trust, the one whose voice we know, the one we believe in.

This is keeping our eyes fastened on the person of Jesus, learning to recognize his voice amidst the other sounds and other voices.

This is knowing he is the one who not only leads us to safety and to the bounty of the pasture, but who, in his person, is actually the way we get there. He is the gate.

(Kathleen Giffin kgif@telus.net)