Recognize the right

Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

Jesus begins talking about sheep, shepherds, and gates with a scene from everyday life. In Jewish villages each family owned a couple of sheep for personal use. The animals stay at night in the courtyard of the family’s house. Families in the village agree as to who will shepherd their combined flock. In the morning this shepherd goes down the street to gather the sheep. The person at the door recognizes the shepherd and opens the gate for the sheep to pass through. The shepherd has a distinct call or whistle, which the sheep recognize and follow.

We too live as a single village, a family; the family of Jesus called the Holy Church. We are God’s single flock composed sheep gathered from the courtyards of various homes. The doorkeepers in our homes are our faithful parents, particularly our mothers who were our gatekeepers. They stood watch over the gate of the home. They recognized what was best for us, what was safest, what would lead us to salvation and life. So, they opened the doors of the their homes to the Good Shepherd. They took action to recognize Jesus as the Good Shepherd, as the One who would shepherd their little flock, their children to salvation and life.

The One to Whom our mothers gave authorization, Jesus, enters into our lives in the proper fashion, through the gate. We recognize Him and He leads us to salvation and life while those without authorization, the false prophets, only have “the voice of strangers.” These forces of media, politics, celebrity, and peer group are not really powerful at all, but constantly try to draw us to ideas and aspirations that are contrary to those of our Shepherd. They want to lead us to separation, loneliness, fear, fading vanity, and death. They do not have the good of the sheep, our good, in mind but rather selfish ends of their own.

Our parents, our mothers who guard the fold, recognized the Good Shepherd. His entry into our lives was natural, out in the open, without forcing. Such has been Jesus’ entrance into this world and amongst his own people. He has come in the appropriate manner, having been sent by the Father to bring us life that is faithful, loving, dependable, and gentle.

What has been shown to us, taught to us, starting with our mothers, is the manner by which we recognize the Good Shepherd. In recognizing Him we find salvation and life.