Reflection on 4th Sunday of Easter: 3rd May 2020

I Am the Gate

When we reflect on Jesus as the Good Shepherd, we have a cornucopia of themes on which to feast: loving; following; listening; being known; pastoring; nourishing; giving life; gentle caring; being lost and found. Each theme is a meal in itself, nourishing us as we reflect on its relevance in our own lives. In today’s second reading Peter speaks about Jesus’ response to suffering, especially undeserved suffering, leaving an example for us so that we can ‘return to our Shepherd’.

“When we suffer, everything in us wants to blame somebody. We may feel that it releases our anger, but it doesn’t really heal. Many studies have shown that most of the pain that we suffer is not from the incident itself, but it’s our resistance to it. It’s that constant voice that shouts, “This isn’t fair. This shouldn’t have happened to me. This is not right.” Although these reactions may be justified, the trouble is that they destroy the soul, because we keep replaying those voices over and over again. Jesus shepherds the soul by walking through the gate first and then he says, “I am the gate.” Life isn’t fair and if we expect it always to be fair, we are going to live every day angry, bitter and disappointed. It’s said that every expectation is a resentment waiting to happen. The way Jesus shepherds our soul is by leading us to a much deeper place where we don’t immediately fight, resist and oppose everything that happens to us. I offer you the following prayer. When we first read it, we will probably think, “This is impossible. I can’t do that.” But when we can, we will find the grace to say ‘Yes’ to life before we start with ‘No’. Most of us start the day with ‘No. I don’t like it; I resist it; I have to fix it, change it or even understand it’ – when most of the time we can’t. I offer this prayer, not because I know how to live it but because Jesus did it first and he will show us the way.

Adapted from Richard Rohr

The Welcoming Prayer

Welcome, welcome, welcome. I welcome everything that comes to me today
because I know it’s for my healing.
I welcome all thoughts, feelings, emotions, persons, situations, and conditions.
I let go of my desire for power and control.
I let go of my desire for affection, esteem, approval and pleasure.
I let go of my desire for survival and security. I let go of my desire to change any situation, condition, person or even myself.
I simply open to the love and presence of God and God’s action within.

Amen.

Father Thomas Keating