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April 26, 1996     The Message
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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Commentary-_ The shepherd and the gate: Two parables COmmentary for Sunday of .4: John 10:1-10 of the the authors seem to Ous guidelines or first twelve chap- !gospel. Among those the COnnection of and words with a t. Thus we ad Words of Jesus Sabbath obser- and with the Lhs. John By FATHER DON DILGER COLUMNIST new and fuller meaning to the section from which today's is connected by John with the feast of Dedication. This feast corn- and rededication of the a war between Jewish pa- and country the Syrian superiority. They had gained in Jerusalem and introduced leadership of the Maccabees eventually defeated The temple defilement, the idol-polluted altar d and a new altar built and ves us two brief parables the first of these Jesus states the sheepfold by way of thieves and robbers. The sheep- enclosure where shepherds their flocks overnight. John writes the thieves and robbers, who do not enter through the door or gate, the shepherd of the sheep enters by way of the gate. This parable is fol- lowed immediately by a second parable: the sheep hear their shep- herd's voice. He calls each of them by name. They know his voice and will follow him, but they will not heed the voice of strangers. The first parable will be ex- plained in today's gospel. The second parable is explained by the following parable of the good shepherd. This will be the gospel for next year's fourth Sunday of Easter. Let us therefore concentrate on the first of the two parables, which John explains by presenting Jesus not as the shepherd of the sheep but as door or gate of the sheep or sheepfold. Th e sheepfold was usually marked off by a low stone enclosure either on a hillside or in front of a house. There was one opening to the sheepfold. This opening could be closed by an actual gate or door or the shepherd himself became the gate to the sheepfold by sitting in the entrance as guard or using his own body as a gate by sleeping across the entrance. This latter idea is probably the metaphor intended by John when he portrays Jesus as saying: "I am the gate of the sheep. Those who enter through me will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture .... I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." Before continuing the explanation of Jesus as gate of the sheepfold or sheep, John writes: "All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them." Who are these thieves and robbers? There are many candidates for this dis- tinction in the time of Jesus, but this statement picks up on Ezekiel 34 where the prophet condemns both civic and religious rulers who preyed upon the sheep and failed as shepherds or rulers. Since the gospels use their presentation of Jesus' words and deeds to respond to problems of their own time, the last third of the first century, one must look for "thieves and robbers" at the time of the writing of the gospel. John has just portrayed Jesus speaking of the religious leadership of his time as blind and guilty. Jesus is presented as a contrast to them. We know that the Judaism that became Christianity was in bitter conflict with the leaders of another form of Judaism. That conflict is reflected by the vi- cious name-calling and denunciation of opponents in John. "Thieves and robbers" is just another example of this denunciation. Now to return to Jesus' statement: "I am the gate of the sheep. Those who enter through me will be saved .... Perhaps the best explanation is one that adheres to John's principle of connecting Jesus' words with a religious feast, in this case Hanukkah. In John's version of cleansing the temple, Jesus is called the new temple. In Jesus' dialogue with the Samaritan woman he speaks of a time when there will be no external temple structure but the Father will be worshipped in spirit and truth. Psalm 118:20:20 speaks of the temple as "the gate of the Lord. "Jesus as the new temple through whom the Father is worshipped "in spirit and in truth" be- comes the true gate of the Lord, the door to salva- tion. John 14:6 expresses the same thought: "I am the way, the truth, the life." The feast of Hanukkah is given a new meaning: not only has the temple been cleansed and rededicated, it has been replaced by Jesus as the new and final temple. Readings Acts 2:14,36-41: I Peter 2:20.25 9 & MORE Service SERVC,NG ALL AREA HOSPITALS - & FUNERAL HOMES "7296 ' Evansville FOOD I"r.(}.W. N Washington Auto Trim 27 Years Service IN 47591 Golden Jubilarians Clarence and Mildred (Baehl) Rexing of Evansville will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a Mass of Thanksgiving at 2:30 p.m. May 4 at St. Joseph Church, Vanderburgh County. A reception, dinner and dance for invited guests will follow at the Knights Home in St. Wen del. The couple was married May 1, 1946, at St. Joseph Church. They are the parents of six children: Kenneth Rexing and Allen Rexing, both of Evansville, Benedictine Siater Rosemary Rexing of Ferdinand, Rita Ann Griffith of Indianapolis, Michael Rexing and Carol Jean Goedde, both of Evansville. They have 12 grandchildren. Mr. Rex- ing retired in 1990 after more than 35 years as an auto me- chanic. ill ii DUBOIS COUNTY BANK MEMBER OLD NATIONAL BANCORP Member FDIC YOUR FIVE STAR SERVICE BANK i I Golden Jubilarians Robert and Alice (Verkamp) Theising will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a Mass of Thanksgiving at 10 a.m. May 5 at St. Raphael Church, Dubois. A dinner for family and guests will follow in St. Raphael's church basement. An Open House for friends and relatives will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. in the church basement. The couple was married at Sacred Heart Church, Schnellville, by Fa- ther Sylvester Ziemer. They are the parents of ten chil- dren: Linda Reuber, Rita Schroering, Mary Theising, John Theising, Ruth Fritch, Mark Theising, Jane Heft- man, Laura Theising and Dan Theising. Their son Ronald Theising is deceased.. They have 17 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. i u! ii iii ii i AUTO TOPS. SEAT COVE. FOAT COVERS STEREO SALES & i ;,:L \\;TIONS 254-3943 HWY 50 EAST, EEi,rlE" :,;DS CENTER EUGENE WELP, OWNER i i i ii i]1 i i i