Text study on John 10:1-10
Lectionary text for May 15, 2011
Jesus as the Good Shepherd is a well-known image of Christ. Our shepherd leads, corrects and encourages us to eternal life and salvation. Our shepherd carries us through the misfortune of being lost, despair, despondency and betrayal. Jesus is our Good Shepherd.
Our society, on the other hand, has two great shepherds: our human passions and our self-centeredness. Passions tell us that if it feels good to you, it is OK — and God will bless you. Self-centeredness claims that everything is colored by the glasses which you wear.
A young teenager once came to me in tears. She told me, “I hate my parents. This is my body and I can do with my body whatever I want.” I asked her to explain more.
She wanted to get a navel ring and her parents said no. She was angry. I listened to her and then asked her if her eyes looked like her father’s or mother’s eyes. She said, “My mother’s — they are big and bright.”
I asked, “How tall are you?” She replied, “I am tall like my father.” I asked again, “What about your teeth?” She laughed. “They are my mother’s teeth.”
I said, “If your teeth, height and eyes come from your parents, they are gifts given to you. Don’t you think that they have a say when you are under their roof?” She smiled. We prayed and she left.
When she came back a grown woman with a baby to be baptized, I could not help myself. I asked, “When is the baby getting a navel ring?” She laughed and said, “Not in this lifetime.”
Our minds, rational and emotional, get clouded by passions and we create our own logic. We become our own shepherds when our passions and our self-obsession dictate our actions and behaviors. In the language of John’s Gospel, the thief is whatever (or whoever) we allow to steal us away from the Good Shepherd.
As a community of faith trying to celebrate and encourage one another biblically, is our leading principle to listen to the Scriptures or to impose whatever is already in our minds?
We cannot interpret this passage to say that Jesus is a Good Shepherd if we mean only “For he’s a jolly good fellow, for he’s a jolly good fellow, which nobody can deny.”
Rather, this passage reminds us that the gospel destroys the paradigms created by relativism and our passions. The proclamation of God’s law and commandments are a sign of a caring Creator who leads us to living water — when we allow ourselves to be led.