When I was a little girl, I remember my parents always being very careful to make sure our backyard gate was always locked. No one could get in, and I, being a little three-year-old girl, could not get out. I wasn’t supposed to talk to anyone through the gate, no matter what they said. The gate was security and safety, giving my parents a sense of knowing that no harm could come to me from outside that gate.
And what was outside the gate? I remember my parents warning me about bad people who could take me and hurt me. When we went shopping, I always had to hold my Mom or Dad’s hand, I couldn’t talk to strangers, I definitely could NOT take candy from a stranger. At the age of three, I had a very specific understanding of what danger could be.
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus is the gate. Only good people will use the gate – they would have no need to jump the gate or make a hole through the fence. He is the keeper of the gate – the gate opens, he calls them by name and leads them as a group through the gate. The beauty of this is that the sheep can recognize their shepherd’s voice. They don’t recognize anyone else’s voice.
Jesus came to give new life in abundance. We are totally his, and as we continue to recognize his voice, may we follow him on to our heavenly home.
Patty Masson is the Director of Adult Formation and Evangelization for St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Church in Spring, Texas.