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Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Reading Acts 11:1-18
Gospel John 10:1-10

“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

When we picture the Good Shepherd, we often imagine him carrying a single stray sheep on His shoulders. That’s definitely a consoling image for us when we’re preparing for Confession. But when Jesus as 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 is this “home”?

The Good Shepherd carries us through the gate 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 our love of Him with our love of neighbor.

Here we start to see the importance of the gate. The gate is an entrance into the life of God’s people, not just into divine life: not just into some abstract nirvana or state of good vibrations, but into the life of God’s flock. This is a chief focus of the Easter Season. 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, which we live out practically within our parish family, and at home within the domestic church.