Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” Although Jesus used this figure of speech, they did not realize what he was trying to tell them. So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are here with me. This time with you now in prayer is the most important time in my day. I know that you have prepared many graces for me. I wish to take advantage of them with grateful fervor.
Petition: Lord, help me to go through the gate! May I hear no other voices but yours!
1. Jesus Is the Gate: We all want to be happy. There is no one on the face of the planet who would consciously choose to be frustrated and miserable. Yet how is it that so many people unconsciously choose to be, or are missing the boat on what really makes life worthwhile? Jesus is the gate! If we truly want to fulfill our deepest human aspirations, we have to know and love Jesus Christ. As long as Jesus is second to anything or anyone in our life, we have not fully passed through the gate. Taking the plunge and truly passing through the gate is the best decision we could ever make.
2. The Voice of Strangers: If we don’t go through the gate, we are vulnerable. Those who are not fully committed may find the offers of strangers quite enticing. But Christ’s sheep reject those voices out of fidelity to their Shepherd. Perseverance in our Catholic faith and our Catholic lifestyle requires a constant effort to refocus on the Lord. Even if we are besieged by a cacophony of competing voices, the voice of the Lord will always rise above that din. We must be faithful. Our prayer life is the privileged place to screen out the noise and truly hear Christ, which is why our prayer is the most important time of the day. How vibrant is my prayer life?
3. Abundant Life: The effort to go through the gate and to listen only to the voice of the Good Shepherd pays abundant dividends. “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” What is that life like? Put simply, there’s nothing like it. The abundant life that Christ gives us is the indwelling presence of the Holy Trinity in one’s soul. It is the love that envelops authentically Christian homes and communities. It is the peace that comes from a conscience that has experienced forgiveness and is committed to living in the truth. What could anyone give us that can possibly compare to all of this?
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I thank you for this time we have spent together. Many times I have allowed other voices to distract me from yours. I pledge to walk the path of fidelity to you. Grant me the grace to persevere always and to give others an example to help them through the gate.
Resolution: I will reach out to a relative who is estranged from the Church, reflecting some of the love of Christ the Good Shepherd with hopes it will direct him or her to the gate.
Athirst is my soul for the living God.
As the hind longs for the running waters,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
Athirst is my soul for God, the living God.
When shall I go and behold the face of God?
Athirst is my soul for the living God.
John 10: 1 – 10 But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.
Can I recognize Jesus’ voice? Do I know when the “voice I am hearing” (temptation) is not from Jesus?
Action: If Jesus has been trying to get you to do something, do it. Follow his voice.
“Whoever does not enter the sheepfold through the gate but climbs in some other way is a thief and a marauder. The one who enters through the gate is shepherd of the sheep.” –John 10:1-2
Are you being taught the truth in this book, One Bread, One Body? You need not be an amateur theologian and give your own opinion on this issue. You know from the Imprimatur stated in the front of this book that nothing in One Bread, One Body is contrary to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. This means that we who write this book have entered the sheepfold through the gate, that is, we are serving and teaching in the Church according to the will of Jesus, the Good Shepherd (see Jn 10:1-2, 7).
Because we are under the authority of the body of Christ, the Church, we can be sure we are under the authority of Jesus, the Head of the Church. As a result, you can be sure that nothing you read in One Bread, One Body is contrary to the teachings of the Church. This is a great beginning in helping you discern whether what you read in this book is true.
Jesus is the Truth (Jn 14:6). His “word is truth” (Jn 17:17). The Church is “the pillar and bulwark of truth” (1 Tm 3:15). Therefore, we can be men and women of the truth, and the truth will set us free (Jn 8:32).
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, guide me to all truth (Jn 16:13).
PROMISE: “As I began to address them the Holy Spirit came upon them, just as It had upon us at the beginning.” –Acts 11:15
PRAISE: Pope St. Pius V was as saintly a friar as he was a pope. He was known for his humility.
Pope St. Pius V (1504-1572)
Pius is best known for enacting the reforms of the Council of Trent. He introduced a new breviary, missal, and catechism. He worked with the needy, built hospitals, and used the papal treasury to care for the poor.
Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for this opportunity to be with you in prayer. My heart is ready to listen to your words of eternal life so that I may choose to follow you more closely on the path of true love.
Petition: Lord, may I be faithful to your will in my life.
1. I Lay It Down: The Father entrusted Christ with a mission: Christ was to bring about our salvation through a life of unlimited self-giving, even to the point of giving his own life. Being God he could repay the Father for our sins; being man he could identify with our fallen humanity and raise its dignity so that we might become the Father’s children. Christ was the perfect bridge between fallen man and an infinitely holy God. His mission of bridging this chasm came about through freely accepting the will of the Father. Our Lord would receive nothing in return, and yet he was faithful even to the point of death.
2. On My Own: Jesus was not ordered to give himself for our sins. He offered himself. Freedom is best used when it willingly embraces God’s will, whatever the cost might be. We have to remember that Jesus knew what lay beyond his preaching and his miracles: the road to Calvary. He spent many nights in prayer on the Mount of Olives in preparation for his hour. He foretold his fate to his disciples and continued forward towards this end despite their misunderstanding. And in the end, when the hour came, he proved faithful. When the hour of darkness sought him, he stepped forward to say, “I am he.” Christ never flinched in front of God’s will. He felt its weight. Sorrow flooded his heart. An easier path tugged at his humanity. But he proved that love is stronger than death, that true freedom can defeat sin and master it.
3. A Life of Love: Perhaps offering ourselves to God frightens us. What will he ask? What will I have to leave behind? Will I be able to do it? However, fear vanishes when we live out of love, like Christ. We need to remember that the Father asked him to die for us, and look at the fruits this bore! Taking on our humanity, he left behind the splendor of his divinity and raised us to a new level. He did the impossible by bearing the weight of all our sins. He trusted in the Father to give him strength. Today we might be asked to die more to our self-love, to leave behind a vice we have been struggling with or to trust that with grace we can live a truly Christian life in a world hostile to Christianity. In the end, if we love Christ, we will not be frightened because he has already shown us the way –– and he has already conquered.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, give me the courage to be a faithful Christian at all times and in all places, with whomever I meet and in whatever I say. Help me to give testimony to who you are.
Resolution: I will offer one concrete act of self-mastery for love of Christ today.
“The Father loves Me for this.” –John 10:17
The Holy Spirit confirms and strengthens us. He makes us confident, bold, and immune to manipulation by fears. Peter, for example, before receiving the Spirit, denied Christ three times when he was confronted with very minimal pressure from a servant girl (Lk 22:56ff). After receiving the Spirit, Peter fearlessly proclaimed Jesus as Lord and Savior without being intimidated by a formidable group of leaders, elders, scribes, and members of the high priest’s family (Acts 4:5-6).
How does the Spirit change the fearful into fearless warriors for God? The Spirit from our hearts cries out “Abba!” (“Father”) (Gal 4:6; Rm 8:15) By the Spirit, we become convinced that God the Father loves us. We know that even if a mother would be without tenderness for the child of her womb, our heavenly Father will never stop loving us (see Is 49:15). The Spirit opens our eyes to realize that after the Father has sent the Son to die for love of us, we can be sure that our Father will never forsake us (Rm 8:32). “See what love the Father has bestowed on us in letting us be called children of God! Yet that is what we are” (1 Jn 3:1). We have no more reason to fear. If God the Father “is for us, who can be against us?” (Rm 8:31)
When we receive the Spirit from the Father and the Son, we begin to know and trust the Father and the Son so deeply that we can fearlessly face death, endure sufferings, and live the risen life. Come, Holy Spirit!
PRAYER: Father, give me a supernatural security in Your love.
PROMISE: “I am the Good Shepherd. I know My sheep and My sheep know Me in the same way that the Father knows Me and I know the Father.” –Jn 10:14-15
PRAISE: “To the One seated on the throne, and to the Lamb, be praise and honor, glory and might, forever and ever!” (Rv 5:13)