(July 4)

I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.” (Jn 10: 9-16).

We all need to “belong.” Why? Because we were made that way, to share in, and be part of, God’s Oneness and God’s “abundant” Life. It is both spiritually and psychologically tormenting for us, to feel shut out from Life, like puzzle-pieces that don’t fit anywhere. Many people go through life feeling that way, or have felt that way, at some time or another. It is part of our human “fallenness” or brokenness, which cannot be put together again by merely-human means.

Christ, the Incarnate Son of God, is the “door” through Whom we, who were once outsiders and misfits, “enter” true Life, and truly become a part of God’s world. We are thus “saved,” meaning, returned home, or made whole. Other, merely-human community-builders might offer us some sense of belonging, but none of these “hirelings” can “save” us, that is to say, make us “whole” within ourselves and with God’s world. Outside communion with Christ and His unifying and humbling Spirit, we will always find ourselves “scattered” and searching for a certain someone or something that we never seem to find.

Today I let myself be “found” or saved by Christ, the Good Shepherd, and take His door, of humility, patience, and self-offering love. Thank You, Lord, for laying Your life down for us, and claiming us as Your own, and nobody else’s. Today I hear Your voice, and let myself be led by Your purpose for me, rather than wander about alone, where I never really belong.