Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter
Acts 11:1-18 + John 10:1-10
“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
Often when we picture the Good Shepherd, we imagine him carrying a single stray sheep on His shoulders. That’s consoling when we’re preparing for Confession, or praying at night during our examination of conscience. But when Jesus the Good Shepherd takes us upon His shoulders, where does He carry us back to? When Jesus returns us “home” through the gate that He Himself is, what exactly is this “home”?
In fact, the Good Shepherd carries us back into the midst of the flock. Jesus returns the stray to its flock so that all one hundred can graze and dwell together. Here we have an image of the Church. Being a Christian is never just about “me and Jesus”. As soon as we try to separate love of God from love of neighbor, we will love neither God nor neighbor as He wants, or as He does. Within the flock of the Church is where God teaches us to mingle love of Him with love of neighbor.
Here we start to see the importance of the gate. The gate is an entrance into the life of God’s flock, not just into divine life. The Church as God’s flock is a chief theme of the Easter Season, and our preparation for Pentecost. That’s why our First Reading throughout Easter is from the Acts of the Apostles: the book of Acts is all about the life of the early Church. That is to say, Acts teaches us how the first Christians lived a common life as God’s flock, with the Apostles as their earthly shepherds. God’s flock on earth is His Church, whose life we experience both within our parish family and at home within the domestic church.