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Who is the Doorkeeper?

Sunday, April 21, 2002

Fourth Sunday of Easter. Fr Edmund Hill preaches on the parable of the sheepfold.

The Rabbi of Kotzk surprised some learned men who were visiting him. He asked them:

Where is the dwelling of God?

They laughed at him:

What a thing to ask! Is not the whole world full of his glory?

Then he answered his own question:

God dwells wherever man lets him in.

The Rabbi's piece of wisdom I lifted from The Blue Guide to the Here and Hereafter, assembled by Lionel Blue and Jonathan Magonet, who lifted it from Martin Buber. It has given me answer to my own question with today's Gospel, the double parable of the sheepfold.

Jesus tells us who the shepherd is: himself. He tells us who the door of the sheepfold stands for: himself. But he doesn't tell us who the doorkeeper is. The Kotzke Rabbi gives me one answer here: it's you and me, any one of the sheep inside or outside the sheepfold.

We are told, after all, that his sheep know the shepherd's voice and follow him. Presumably the doorkeeper too knows his voice when he stands at the door and knocks. So it makes sense to say that the doorkeeper is one of the sheep, one of us.

So do we let the good Shepherd in, when he comes and knocks on our doors? There are others knocking too, thieves and robbers, and possibly hirelings, the allurements of fashion, the promptings of ambition, the pointers to the easy way out.

These we have too often, perhaps, let in through the door, in case they should take the roofs off our houses and climb in over the walls. Will the good Shepherd find them still in possession when at last we open the door to him? Not if we let him in through himself, who is the door of the sheepfold.

In what form can he be the door of the sheepfold? In the form of Christ crucified, spreading his arms wide, like an open door. So we have to let Christ in to our inner selves through the door of faith in Christ, and him crucified.

And when any one of us lets him in to ourselves individually, we also do something towards letting him in to all the other sheep, because our faith in Christ and him crucified, if it works through love, can be very catching.

Then indeed he can lead us all in and lead us all out together, that we may have life, and have it more abundantly; have life here and now in the risen Christ, here and now in his body; have it more abundantly in the resurrection of the dead, when he comes again in glory.

Readings

Acts 2:24,36-41
1 Pet 2:20-25
John 10:1-10

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