St. Mary of the Angels
October 1, 2021
John 10:7: “…Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.”
Verily, Verily Statements: English translation of the Greek and Hebrew word for “amen,” which means “truly,” “surely,” or “only.” When used at the end of a declaration, it is meant to be an unambiguous acceptance of what has been said. The “amen” at the end of a prayer, therefore, when said by the people is first a verbal agreement with what has been prayed and, secondly, an emphatic and spiritual connecting to that prayer and to whatever grace may be bestowed from it. In saying “amen,” we attest that prayer is always of, from, and for the community of the faithful and is never wholly private. When Christ Jesus says “amen” at the beginning of a declaration, He is calling attention to what He is about to say. He is saying that the declaration will be unambiguous and absolute, and He is inviting an “amen” from the listeners in response.
“The Lord be with you…” and the responses that follow from that during the Mass are further examples of “amen” statements. During the Mass, the Priest is the Altar Christus, literally the icon of Christ Jesus Himself, and so when he says “The Lord be with you” he is saying to every person assembled that the Lord is among them. When the People say “And with thy Spirit,” it is like an “amen” to what the Priest has said. They are agreeing with the Priest that the Lord really is among them and tying themselves to his Spirit which is the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of the Altar Christus being the Spirit of Christ or the Holy Spirit). Now that the Lord is among them all, and they are all enjoined with the Holy Spirit, they have affirmed that they are not just an assembly of people, but rather the community of the faithful. So when the Priest says, “Let us pray,” it is the faithful in Christ who are about to pray together.
“I am the door of the sheep” has a literal connotation: Sheep pens at the time were built with one slim opening in otherwise high walls. This was meant to keep the sheep from wandering out, and other animals from wandering inside, and would be protected by a doorkeeper who literally would lay across the opening to rest or to sleep. The doorkeeper was in essence “the door” of the sheep pen.
“I am the door of the sheep” has a metaphorical connotation: Noah’s Ark has only one thin door through which the animals will be let in and out. The sheep pen is a place wherein the sheep are protected, and so it is a kind of tabernacle for them. Noah’s Ark is a tabernacle for creation from the floods.
Note Genesis 7:16: “And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the Lord shut him in.” God Himself literally shuts the door to Noah’s Ark, so God Himself is literally the doorkeeper for His chosen. When Christ Jesus says that He is the door, He is identifying Himself with the Lord who shut the door to Noah’s Ark. Therefore, this “I AM” statement is again an expression of His own divinity.
What does it mean to be God’s sheep?
The sheep must be protected by their shepherd. Without their shepherd, they will be victims of the wolves who want to devour them. Before Original Sin, God designated Adam to be the chief keeper or shepherd of His creation (Genesis 2:15: “And the Lord God took the man, and put him in the Garden of Eden, to dress it and to keep it.”). Because of his sin, Adam loses the ability to be the keeper even of his own life, let alone the life of creation, and so is banished. God has to be the Shepherd, for man is incapable and is lost (banished).
See Isaiah 40:10-11: “[The Lord] tends His flock like a Shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart. He gently leads those that have young.” – To gather is the bring back together what has been lost or banished. To be close to God’s heart is to be once more known, for love particularizes, identifies, and sets apart. To gently lead those that have young is to protect the most vulnerable and to shepherd them toward the one home wherein the parents may tend to their children (salvation is social, familial, and so for the Kingdom).
The sheep must be taught, for without their shepherd they cannot figure out for themselves what really matters for their own salvation (Mark 6:34: “[Jesus] had compassion on [the huge crowd] because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So He began teaching them many things.”). Without the Shepherd, the sheep are not only without knowledge. They are prone to the mindless and self-destructive mob (Luke 23:34: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”).
If obedient to He who protects and teaches the sheep, the sheep will be led by their Shepherd out from His tabernacle and into His pasture – just as the animals protected in Noah’s Ark are led out of the Ark and onto the dry (washed and cleansed) land when the waters finally recede, because God has remembered them (Genesis 8:1: “But God remembered Noah and all of the beasts and all of the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided.” And Genesis 8:19: “Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by their families from the ark.”).
See Psalm 79:13: “Then we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will thank you forever and ever, praising your greatness from generation to generation.” – To be the sheep in His pasture is to be a citizen of His Kingdom where we worship God in holiness and righteousness all the days of our lives.
See Matthew 25:32-34: “…He will place the sheep at His right hand and the goats at His left. Then the King will say to those on His right, Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.” – To be the sheep in His pasture or the citizen of His Kingdom is to be chosen by God. God is jealous for us, for we are chosen, so He wants us to be jealous for Him. Moreover, God is “jealous” for sheep – that is, for a creation must lower than Himself and in constant need of His grace. This is a testament of how selfless is His love for us, for we can offer Him nothing He does not already have more abundantly. As His “inheritors,” the sheep who learn from their Shepherd, we must learn from His example to be as selfless in our love for Him and for one another.
John 10:8: “All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers…” Only Christ Jesus brings us salvation, for only He is the Incarnate God. By comparison, the false shepherds take more from the sheep than they give to them which is the nature of sin.
John 10:8: “…but the sheep did not hear them.” The sheep can know the distinct call of their shepherd because the shepherd has chosen them for himself, has taught him his voice, and has earned their trust. Because God chooses us first, we can know and trust in Him. God must first come to us before we can go to Him. This is an indication of just how fallen we are in our many sins, and yet it is also an indication of just how much God loves us that He comes to us first.
John 10:9: “…by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved…” Christ Jesus is the one and only doorkeeper for our souls. No man may “enter in” apart from His intercession, no matter how good the man’s intentions or committed his efforts. On the other hand, “any man” may follow Christ Jesus and so have that door opened for him. Christ Jesus is the only way, but His way is open for all men.
7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.