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“I am the gate.” Why gate? I can understand that Christ is the shepherd of the sheep. I can understand why he is the vine because we are the branches. But the gate?
When Abraham lived among the Bedouins, sheep, and lambs were kept inside the gate during the winter months. This made sense because there was nothing to eat outside of the gate until spring. When spring arrives there was something to eat outside so they open the gates and let the domestic animals free. Because they didn’t have Super Bowls back then they had to have some excuse to throw a party, so they celebrated the first day of spring when they opened the gates. During the celebration, they thanked God for giving them food so they could free the animals.
Many years later the Israelites turned to God and said, “We are stuck and cannot leave Egypt because we are free labor for them.” And God said “No problem, I will make a gate and open the door.” So God gave them passage to freedom. Soon after they had their backs against the Red Sea. They could not advance and the Egyptian army was charging against them. So the Israelites turned to God and said, “We are stuck again and have no place to go for safety.” God said, “No problem, I will make another gate and give you passage.” Then they were stuck in the desert for forty years and again they turned to God. “No problem,” He said, “I will make another gate.” He brought them to the Jordan River during the rainy season when the river was running high and fast. He stopped the river from flowing, and they had safe passage to the Promised land. So when Jesus says that he is the gate, it makes sense. Jesus as the gate does not mean that he is freeing the lambs from winter enclosure, or freeing the people from bondage or from wandering in a desert, but he is freeing the people from a tomb.
Let me ask this: Why was the stone removed from the opening of Jesus’ grave? So Jesus could get out? No, Jesus had a resurrected body. He could walk through locked doors. The stone was removed, not for Jesus to get out, but for us to go in and see. And what exactly do we see? We see that the grave now has a gate and God can open the gate for passage from death to life. So when we die, and our spirits turn to God and say “We are stuck in a tomb.” God can now say, “I will send you a gate.” It is important to remember that the gate speaks. The door can talk because it is a person. And the door always says: “Follow me.” That makes sense because we are no longer “stuck,” we have a passage, we have a path to follow.
I had to pick up one of the priests at South Station at 2:30 in the morning. The poor guy had his flight canceled so he took the train. The train broke down and they needed to get on another train. All this took place during a snowstorm. I picked him up and on the way back he asked me to pull over. I thought to myself, “It is 2:30 in the morning and he wants to stop for something?” He got out of the car and went over to a young man who was sitting on the sidewalk with his back against a building. He said something and gave him a five-dollar bill. What impressed me the most was not that he helped a guy who needed a warm cup of coffee. It was the fact that he did it immediately after being stuck on a train for 12 hours. Who does this kind of thing? Someone who follows a path in life, someone who follows a voice. The best part about having a talking door in our lives is that we never have to worry about the future or death. We never have to look to the future for greatness. We have great opportunities in the present. We just have to follow the voice.Back to All Homilies