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Gospel Lectio Divina for The Fourth Sunday of Easter - April 30, 2023

Gospel Lectio Divina for The Fourth Sunday of Easter - April 30, 2023

By David Kilby

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

READ

Jn 10:1-10

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 the shepherd 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, the Pharisees 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."

MEDITATE

"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.”

Many people will come to you claiming they have divine inspiration, or saying they are sent from God. Many will give spiritual advice, many will even offer a way to heaven you never heard of before. If they do not clarify that Jesus is the only way, they are trying to rob you. They are trying to convince you of falsehoods and mislead you away from God. These thieves like to share how they have found their own way to God, how they figured out a secret to life that no religion will tell you, and how their little secret is the truest way to God. There will always be scoffers. There will always be those who want to play the role of Jesus. Some of them even do use his name to attract others, then preach a gospel different from the one Jesus gave. These are thieves and robbers trying to steal our souls away from God. Don’t let your faith in God or Jesus make you vulnerable to those who use their names in vain in these ways. There is only one Good Shepherd, only one gate, and only one who knows the way to heaven. Let’s follow him and him alone. 

The sheep hear his voice.

I’ve often wondered if Jesus really does speak through other people that I meet in my life. Clearly, he speaks through Scripture, but there are days when I don’t hear his voice there. Then on that same day, I sometimes hear his voice loud and clear through a conversation with a stranger–and there’s nothing stranger. It’s strange because one would think God’s voice would be clearer in the pages of his own word. Well, those pages still are the Word of God, but sometimes I am not in the right state to hear his voice in them. 

That is why God–thankfully–has diffused his love to us through not only Scripture but through our lives as well. We have to be careful though, because if our consciences have not been properly formed by Scripture and the teachings of the Church, we could easily misinterpret the ways God is speaking in our lives. We could think all ethereal moments are genuine touches from God, when–in reality–we are spiritual beings and our spirit can be moved in many ways and not all of those ways are good. If we are not formed properly by Scripture and Church teachings, the ways God speaks to us in our lives could be lost as we are drawn to other interests. But when we are formed by these things, we can hear his voice loud and clear just as Christ describes in this Sunday’s Gospel. 

Many times I have wished God would say something to me that simply did not line up with his word and teachings. It’s no wonder why I never received such validation on those occasions. However, when I failed to hear his voice in Scripture and then asked him to speak to me through my lived experience, he has heard my prayer and has answered with messengers from heaven–I do believe. God knows our frail human nature. He knows how he needs to layer his voice by speaking to us not only in Scripture but also through his creation. We know it is him because he speaks to the heart, and his sheep are familiar with that distinct call of the heart.

I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

The implication here is that, whatever the thief gets from his thievery, the abundant life Christ offers is greater. It’s not worth more merely because it gives the recipient a clear conscience. It is also simply more valuable. How do we know this? The gospel is based on giving. The more we give, the more we receive, but we have to first have faith and hope that what we give will come back to us. At the same time though, we need to be selfless. The abundant life God offers us is based on an abundance mindset. The abundance mindset tells us that when we give we are always giving from a place of abundance. If I don’t have what is being asked of me, I can find someone who does and who is willing to give. The abundance mindset works when we work together. 

The thief, on the other hand, has a scarcity mindset. He thinks he does not have enough, so he feels like he must take from those who are not willing to give to him–rather than ask for something from people who would be willing to give. Christ touches upon this logic elsewhere, when he teaches, “Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him” (Matthew 13:12). Jesus often uses the language we would use to describe our situation. If we think we have little, we will receive little because we will give little. If we think we have plenty, we will receive plenty because we will give plenty. It’s all about our own mindset. So let’s live the abundant life and adopt the abundance mindset that Christ is teaching.  

PRAY

Dear Lord,

You’re the gate to eternal life, and that is what I’m after. Please instill within me a deeper desire for the abundant life you offer, so I can more easily choose it over the temptations of this ephemeral life on earth. You made us for eternity in heaven, a time and place where the limitations we experience in this life do not exist. If we stay close to you, I believe we can experience that eternal life with you even while we are here on earth. Help me to stay close to you. I believe, but please help my unbelief. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

LISTEN

We will hear the Good Shepherd’s voice when we listen to it. Anyone can claim to be a messenger from God, but only by knowing God’s voice can we know for sure that it is him speaking. He speaks to the heart. Coincidences happen. Not all coincidences are God incidents. If that were the case, every bet a gambler won would be a heavenly intervention. God intervenes at just the right time and place for a very distinct reason. His interventions are about much more than chance. He speaks to us in Scripture at the exact time when we need to hear it. If we don’t hear his voice in Scripture, we can remember what he said therein and listen for his voice in our everyday lives. God is good like that. He is resolute. He speaks to us in his timing–kairos, the promising moment of decision or action. In other words, when we do hear his voice it’s because he is calling us to make a decision or take action. 

If I cannot hear him, I will wait for that right moment. After all, he has waited for me for much longer many times. When I do not hear his voice distinctly, it may be because he is calling me to rest within, reflect, or contemplate the words he has already given me.

Kilby is a freelance writer from New Jersey and managing editor of Catholic World Report.  He received his undergrad degree in humanities and Catholic culture from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. In addition to working with the Knights of the Holy Eucharist (knights.org), he has served as a journalist for Princeton Packet Publications, and the Trenton Monitor, the magazine for the Diocese of Trenton. Some of his published work can also be found in St. Anthony Messenger, Catholic Herald (UK), and Catholic World Report. For the latter he is managing editor. Find more of his writing at ramblingspirit.com.

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