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I can understand that Christ is a shepherd of the sheep. I can figure out why He is a vine because we are the branches. But – why a gate? In ancient times, sheep and lambs were kept inside the gate during the winter months. This made sense because there was nothing to eat outside the gate until spring. Once spring arrived, there is something to eat outside. They open the gates and let the lambs and sheep out. Because they didn’t have super bowls, back then, they had to have some excuse to throw a party, so they celebrated the opening up the gate. It was a wonderful party on the occasion of the freeing of the lambs. In the Bible, we learn that the Israelites turned to God and said, “We cannot leave Egypt because we are slaves and provide free-labor.” God said, “No problem, I will make a gate and open the door and give you passage to freedom.” But after they left, they ran into more blockage with the Red Sea. They could not advance, and the Egyptian army was coming up fast from behind. God said, “No problem, I will make another gate and open the door for your passage.” Then they were stuck in the desert for forty years and God said, “No problem, I will make another gate and open the door for passage into the Promise Land. When Jesus says that He is a “gate”, it means that He is not freeing the lambs, He is not freeing the people from bondage, He is freeing the people from death.
Let me ask: 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 and surely He could walk out of His tomb without moving the rock. So why was it removed? It wasn’t to let Jesus out, but that we could go in and see. And what exactly do we see? We see that the grave now has a gate and God opens the gate for passage from life to death.
I feel I have a wonderful future in front of me, full of possibilities. One possibility is that I will finally finish my degree and graduate. On that day I will say, “Read my lips, no more education. This is as smart as I am going to get.” Another, is they will find a cure for baldness and someday I will again have a full head of thick hair. Another is that I may become Pope, and I am not changing my name. I will be Pope Peter, II. End of story. They are all nice, but they are only possibilities. There is only one thing that will happen and that is I will die. When I die, it will wipe out all of the other wonderful possibilities that will never happen.
When Jesus says He is the gate it means that He changes that absolute from death to life. Now I have a new absolute in my future. I will not die. I will have eternal life.
If you want God to change your one future absolute from death to life there is a catch, you have to listen to His voice. When I was in second grade, God talked to me. He said, “Peter, I want you to be a priest.” I said, “Okay.” He did not actually talk to me with words. Nor was it my imagination from eating too much sugar. He planted the words in me and gave me passion. And it is still there. God’s word never leaves you. He planted His word in your heart to do something special in your life. Follow it, follow His word and you will always walk through open gates.Back to All Homilies