Easter 4 – Year A
A simple story about a shepherd walking up to a gate and it being opened by a gatekeeper is not as straight-forward as it might seem. Folks either find it too simple, there must be a trick to it somewhere, or so deep that there are too many layers to be clear about. At any rate, we will do well to be suspicious of this story, even as were the first hearers.
When questioned we begin to see that our first inclination to associate Jesus with a shepherd is too facile. Jesus identifies with a gate. Those who go through are alternately and mutually shepherds and sheep, nurtured and nurturing of one another and others.
This Gate of G*D is very close to the Logos/Word John begins with. Through this gate is everything created. We move back and forth between the womb and the world, the sheepfold and the pasture. Any who recognize the gate are welcome and have an easy way (remember your Pilgrim's Progress), those who do not come directly to the gate are thieving climbers. This is more about ourselves than the exclusivity of a Gate, which, like in Hell, is probably always open.
It is not that the gate is limiting, as this passage is sometimes interpreted, but expanding. To enter or leave through the gate is a transformative process moving a thief to a shepherd.
Think of other gateways: Peter Pan's second star to the right and straight on 'til morning, Narnia's wardrobe, the monolith in 2001, etc. What might be symbolized as a gateway in your life's experience? No, the answer isn't always Jesus. If you like, what has been your gateway to G*D? If you still want to say, "Jesus," what led you to Jesus?