The Shepherdess with her flock,
Painted by Julien Dupré (1851-1910),
Painted in 1897,
Oil on canvas
© Christian Art

The Shepherdess with her flock,
Painted by Julien Dupré (1851-1910),
Painted in 1897,
Oil on canvas
© Christian Art

Gospel of 22 April 2024

Jesus said: 'I am the gate of the sheepfold'

John 10:1-10

Jesus said:

‘I tell you most solemnly, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold through the gate, but gets in some other way is a thief and a brigand. The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the flock; the gatekeeper lets him in, the sheep hear his voice, one by one he calls his own sheep and leads them out. When he has brought out his flock, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow because they know his voice. They never follow a stranger but run away from him: they do not recognise the voice of strangers.’

Jesus told them this parable but they failed to understand what he meant by telling it to them.

So Jesus spoke to them again: ‘I tell you most solemnly, I am the gate of the sheepfold.

All others who have come are thieves and brigands; but the sheep took no notice of them. I am the gate. Anyone who enters through me will be safe: he will go freely in and out and be sure of finding pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.’

Reflection on the painting

We continue the theme today of the shepherd and the sheep. The painting I am sharing with you is by Julien Dupré. It shows a shepherdess attending to her flock. She is gazing into the distance. Dupré specialised in unapologetically portraying daily life of ordinary rural, working people. Farmers, miners and street workers were his main themes, themes that were very novel at the time. At the beginning of his career in Paris, people wondered who would actually buy these paintings and want to hang them in their homes. But the new bourgeoisie in Paris found them charming, and so a whole genre of these realist paintings came to the fore during the 19th century.

Our figure looks rather solitary. She is pensive. Leading a flock comes with responsibility.

Whilst Jesus is talking about himself as the Shepherd we need to follow, our Gospel reading today also prompts us to think about our own leadership and initiative in our communities. Reading the Gospels yesterday and today probably makes us always identify with the sheep. Yes, we are sheep who are vulnerable to predators, we tend to walk into danger, even to get lost; we have a herd mentality; we graze and gaze at what is in front of us, but don't look at things in the distance… But today's reading is also calling us to be modern day shepherds ourselves: shepherds who start teaching lambs their own names as soon as they are born; shepherds who bring sheep to the Christian flock; shepherds who bring their flock to green pastures; shepherds who help produce the most magnificent wool.

Like Jesus, we can be shepherds, swinging open the gates of our love and care, welcoming everyone into the fields of our communities.

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Elvira
Member
Elvira
29 days ago

About today’s Gospel: It is important to feel called by Jesus «by our name». Let us be attracted by Him. Discover little by little, that no one responds like Him to our questions and our ultimate needs.
It is decisive «to follow» Jesus. The Christian faith does not consist in believing things about Jesus, but in believing Him: to live trusting in Him, in that God who offers Himself to us in Jesus, more human, more friend, closer and savior than all our theories.
This living relationship with Jesus is not born in us automatically. It awakens in us in a fragile and humble way. Sometimes it’s almost just a desire. It usually grows up surrounded by doubts. But, I don’t know how, there are times when contact with Jesus decisively marks our life…
I am convinced that the future of the faith among us is being decided, in large part now, in the conscience of those of us who now feel Christian. Right now faith is being revived or extinguished, in our parishes and communities, in this CA site that we share, in the hearts of the priests and the faithful who form each of the different Christian communities. Unbelief begins to penetrate us from the moment when our relationship with Jesus loses strength or is lulled by routine, indifference and carelessness. For this reason, Pope Francis has recognized that «we need to create motivating and healing spaces […] places where to regenerate faith in Jesus». We have to listen to your call… Let’s do that in CA

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
28 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

Yes Elvira. ‘… faith does not consist in believing things about Jesus, but in believing in Him.’ That you feel this, as I do so far away as we are from each other, and that so many others feel it too, without even ever meeting each other- what a marvel of faith that is.

Let’s hold virtual hands and offer thanksgiving for CA and all other means by which the Gospel is spread.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
28 days ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

I’m holding hands with everyone on CA!

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
28 days ago
Reply to  Elvira

You are a wonder! Such profound reflections you come up with Elvira. I just skim along the top like a bouncing stone!

Elizabeth Hampton
Member
Elizabeth Hampton
29 days ago

Is it too fanciful to wonder about the use of the colours of red and blue in the shepherdess’s apparel (any religious connotations: Christ’s blood and the colour of Heaven?)…no – probably more to do with their significance in paintings of the Romantic genre. Strange that Fr Patrick should talk, today, of leading our communities with new initiatives in his reflection, though…
During Lent I was moved to suggest that hymn singing might be reintroduced at our Vigil Mass as, particularly since the unfortunate departure in quick succession of two PP during the pandemic and a period without one for eight months has left us without this important element to our liturgy.
In the past, I have sometimes lead the hymns unaccompanied as there is no organist for that particular Mass and felt that, as everyone has a natural instrument: their vocal chords, I would offer to lead at least an Entrance and Recessional hymn so that we could join together in sung praise. An additional by-product of this process would be to welcome parishioners with a hymn book before Mass.
Quite a leap of faith for me to take this on as my voice is a little weaker and shakier with age than of yore; I ploughed on with my mission regardless, however. Being still in the Easter season, ‘Thine be the glory’ proved a good choice and was sung with gusto at the end of week one. This Saturday, when trying to offer a hymn book, it was declined with some asperity and I was told in no uncertain terms that this particular lady did not like hymns at Mass – particularly when they were sung ‘half-heartedly’ (presumably that was directed at my unaccompanied lead).
Well, I expect you can appreciate that didn’t do a great deal for my confidence so, in addition to doing one of the readings; the Bidding Prayers and the hymns, I faltered somewhat in my resolve. Other parishioners were very encouraging and the PP thanked me from the altar so I have my mojo back, I hope, for next week.
I would say, that in sticking one’s head above the parapet, it is important to be aware that it can become a target even in a trusted Christian environment.

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
29 days ago

Oh Elizabeth…some people!
We had a wonderful priest (RIP) who always used the old adage, he who sings prays twice 😁
In fact, if a hymn was struck up and nobody really knew it, he’d shout out “No, no (to Lyn, the organist) this is no good – let’s try….”
So more power to you and ignore that particular parishioner. The fact that those other folk and your priest were appreciative is all you need to know – plus the fact that you are doing all but actually saying Mass, I think you are serving your brothers and sisters admirably. 👍👍
Every blessing to you.
Carry on.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
28 days ago

Keep going Elizabeth- others will join you. I have a very trying sister who complains about everything she can find to complain about in the mass- yet she keeps coming. She will slag off people in the pew and then be as nice as pie afterwards. It is very hard to deal with people like this,but we have to try to be patient with them.
You should be applauded for your efforts. He who sings prays twice! God sees all you do.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
28 days ago

What a story! I have come across unpleasant people in church not infrequently. I’ve heard people being rude to priests and making outrageous assertions about people having affairs.
Jesus has always had to put up with some dodgy company.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
29 days ago

Good morning to all searchers for the Truth! The Truth will set you free! ‘Veritas’ – the motto of the Dominicans. There aren’t many people in this world of ours who would not agree that they are searching for the Truth but we Christians believe it to be found in the teachings and person of Our Lord.

I don’t know what inspired me to start off like that….!

I see that the girl portrayed is wearing clogs. Popular in north west France and in earlier times in the north of our own beloved country. I believe that clog dancing was quite popular years ago. When I started working in a big London kitchen in the 1970s some of the chefs wore clogs. They didn’t slip on the tiled floors and they were better protection against spills of hot liquids and fats.

Thimas@
Member
Thimas@
29 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Well to be fair the truth is not to be found in any religious sense. We can only have faith and belief , the truth requires empirical or other proof and it is accepted that we don’t have that. This is why everybody who gives religion any deep consideration always wrestles with it to some extent. Believing something is not truth it is hope and faith and we all need that.
I heard somewhere the other day that even people who are not religious pray at some stage during their life. So there is definitely no such thing as an atheist in my opinion!

Last edited 29 days ago by Thimas@
Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
29 days ago
Reply to  Thimas@

I have given you a tick Thimas! First time ever…
We believe we have the truth. We do not have proof that we have the truth.
Similarly an atheist can say the same. They believe there is no God, but they do not have proof for their position.

George K
Member
George K
29 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

The Truth, for me, is that Love is stronger than evil; that Light overcomes darkness. So, I do believe there are Spiritual Truths. Up to this moment, I’ve considered them to be true for everyone, but you’re right, I do not have proof they are. It is really hard for me to believe they’re not, though. I think I will continue to believe there are universal Spiritual Truths merely because I will have a better day if I do. I do not have the same perspective about religious truths.

I have friends who claim to be atheists, even though they claim they truly believe Love is the Supreme Energy of the universe. It seems to me that what they don’t believe in is the word “God”, not the essence of God, Who I believe is the Source of the energy of Love in the universe.

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
29 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

I’ve said that for years to atheists – can you prove God doesn’t exist?! However, what about Jesus saying “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no-one comes to the Father except through Me”? This has always worried me – it seems to be either or, black or white, sheep or goats – one of the so-called ‘hard sayings’ of Jesus. These are the thoughts of dark moments, is there anyone who doesn’t have them?

Last edited 29 days ago by Noelle Clemens
George K
Member
George K
29 days ago
Reply to  Noelle Clemens

I have them, Noelle. It is usually as a result of discussing these dark nights of my soul that I bring some more light to my spiritual life.

In Matthew, 17-5 (NIV) God says “This is my dearly loved Son, Who brings Me great joy. Listen to Him.”
In John, 13-34 (NIV) Jesus says “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
In 1 John, 4-8 it says “God is love”.
In John 10-30 Jesus says “I and the Father are One.”

These are some of most important spiritual guides in The Bible for me: listening to Jesus and attempting to do as He says. To bring love/God/Father/Jesus/Holy Spirit into my relationship with others and with myself I think I need to be: accepting, caring, compassionate, considerate, just, gentle, kind, respectful, understanding, and so much more. The most difficulty I have in my life is giving them to myself.

Noelle, my answer to your question about Jesus saying “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no-one comes to the Father except through Me”, is that whenever I intentionally bring love into any relationship, I am bringing all of The Trinity into the relationship. The Trinity and Love are all One.

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
28 days ago
Reply to  Noelle Clemens

Yes. And to highlight inconsistency, St Peter tells us (Acts) that the truth (😁) he’s realised is that God does not have favourites but that anyone, from any nation, who fears God and does what us right, is acceptable to Him.

Conard
Member
Conard
29 days ago
Reply to  Thimas@

My Beloved Daddy was a soldier in WWll.
He had a saying, “There are no atheists in a foxhole.”

Thimas@
Member
Thimas@
29 days ago
Reply to  Conard

Very true Conrad. It reminds me of the Ernest Hemingway story which was put much better than this but the gist is:

During a bombardment of a trench, a young soldier lies very still and prays steadily. He promises God that if he lives, he will tell the world about him. The soldier lives and rebuilds the trench. He never discusses God with anyone.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
28 days ago
Reply to  Conard

My friend’s father also who used to joke, ‘I’m an atheist, thank God.’

Elvira
Member
Elvira
29 days ago
Reply to  Thimas@

In my opinion, seeking the Truth (with capital letters) is related to discovering our identity….
The big questions of life: Who am I? What is the meaning of my life? What do others mean to me? What is my place in the world? how to face problems and pain? And death? Is there life after death?… , men have always sought answers to these questions… We believers find the answer in Jesus of Nazareth. To deepen in the person of Jesus is to deepen our own identity. And this is a choice, and as John’s gospel repeats it is a gift “No one can come to me if the Father does not grant it”

Mark Crain
Member
Mark Crain
29 days ago
Reply to  Thimas@

You raise an important distinction between belief and truth, Thimas. Thank you. Consider the “laws” of physics. We cannot see a force such as gravity, and yet we see empirical evidence that is consistent and predictable according to a theory. My Christian beliefs help me “see” consistent and predictable patterns. I understand your point, but the difference between belief and truth is not obvious always to me. Heavy stuff.

Last edited 29 days ago by Mark Crain
Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
28 days ago
Reply to  Thimas@

To quote a well known phrase: Truth? What is that? 😁
Never a truer word spoken.
I am currently reading East of Eden (excellent) and I noted the following from it about inconsistencies in the bible:
“And how does Mrs Hamilton (v religious) feel about the paradoxes in the bible?”
“Why, she does not feel anything because she does not admit they are there”
You do.
So Thimas (and good day to you) I see no harm whatsoever in your qualms and questioning.
Our response on here should simply be to give you our own perspective and I feel very unhappy reading responses that suggest you should go and take your opinions with you.
So here’s mine.
The truth is not to be found in the verification of fact in scripture. Too many, authors, perspectives, translations. You will always come unstuck (unless like Mrs Hamilton, you pretend)
The truth, I believe, is to be found in His message – and Christ’s message never wavers. It’s always about love.
It can stand up to much scrutiny and will still feel right (to me) so my faith is based on it. You can’t prove it’s right or true, you just know in your heart that it’s the way.
I said the other day, I haven’t found another pathway.

Thimas@
Member
Thimas@
28 days ago

Thank you Patricia you.are always very kind in your responses to me and i really don’t mind people who get a hair shirt about anything that i say, it doesn’t bother me at all.
But if you look at most of what i say i don’t really have an opinion. I just mention things that seem to be contrary.
A lot is said about the love that Jesus preached but some of his comments about marriage and relationships , men looking at women etc are very questionable in our modern age and could be interpreted (now) as oppressive.
It’s a bit like the letters of Saint Paul that are selectively read at mass. The readings which are quite misogynistic regarding how women should be treated and what women’s role in life is are never read. This is one of the reasons i don’t volunteer to do readings in church. I would have to say can i choose the reading! It certainly wouldn’t involve walking on water or changing water into wine! As i have mentioned before when i comment on any readings having tea afterwards most people look at me blankly!

Last edited 28 days ago by Thimas@
Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
28 days ago
Reply to  Thimas@

😁 I bet they do!
Does the priest come in for the cuppa? You could ask him for comment.. Or does he see you and run out? 😂

Thimas@
Member
Thimas@
28 days ago

Sorry for the late reply Patricia but i am in a big time change.
Actually my priest and i get on very well. I am lucky he is an excellent chap. I don’t labour him with my comments much. I think he has enough to deal with!

Elvira
Member
Elvira
29 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

I like how you present your reflection today… in some way according to that of the P.P.: if we identify with “the Pastor”, He is “the Door” of the Truth, if we have discovered the Truth, let us teach it to others… , let us transmit it, bear witness to the Truth

Will Howard
Member
Will Howard
28 days ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

“I don’t know what inspired me to start off like that….!”

Hmmm , if you’ll permit me to take a run at it Chazbo (grin):

‘Truth sets Free’ … yes .
And might we add: that for most humans, “Freedom” is another essential human quest, a fundamental search to “have life and have it to the full”.

And this is a happiness, a fulfillment and peace, that is so very elusive in this life. The ‘Truth’ is that there is much that constricts are freedom in this world – never mind the profound ‘imposition’ of sin, suffering and ‘life-terminal’.

Yet Kohelet offers that, ‘one who is able to ‘Flow’ with every season of life, with it’s ‘Vanity of Vanity’, taking humble pleasure in his toil – perhaps in the kings fields – and returns to his good wife at the end of the day, to eat and drink – “there is nothing Better” (Ecc 3: 12). Is not this man the freest?

Perhaps this is why the bourgeoisie of the 19 early 20 century – the beginning of a very dark century indeed – were want to adorn their ‘prison walls of wealth’ with such ‘Realist’ paintings of the peasant class. This is so very well articulate in Dupré ‘s ‘shepherdess’ painting today. The expansiveness of open space, of light and pastoral calm … the subject ‘a woman’ – at that time still so constricted – standing alone, erect, healthy, free … off to the side, her face adorned with joy, calm and happiness overlooking her humble charge … yet her figure with stick inviting the viewer’s gaze to take flight off into the ethereal distances.

This was the world that Our Lord and his 12 inhabited. This figure, an archetype that He so promote – especially to ‘those’, like the woman at the well, or ‘caught in the slavery of adultery’ – as the Truth of real human ‘Beingness’.

We search for such ‘Being’, for one who manifests and embodies such Freedom amidst constriction, who might personify a kind of living gate amidst confinement. None better illustrates and teaches such an art of having such a life to its full than the ‘Shepherd-God … who lays down, so as to take up, the truth of Life eternal.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
28 days ago
Reply to  Will Howard

Thank you Will for your considered words. I hope your friend Father Paul remains well.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
28 days ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

I echo your comment.

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8 May 2022

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3 April 2020

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They accused Jesus of blasphemy

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