Truly, I say to you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. But the shepherd of the sheep enters by the gate. The keeper opens the gate to him and the sheep hear his voice; he calls each of his sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but rather they will run away from him, because they don’t recognize a stranger’s voice.
Jesus used this comparison, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
So Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, I am the gate of the sheep. All who came were thieves and robbers, and the sheep did not hear them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved; he will go in and out freely and find food.
The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I have come that they may have life, life in all its fullness.”
In his all-time best-selling book How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie writes: “We should be aware of the magic contained in a name… A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.“ Why is this? Because our name sets us apart as individuals, it makes us unique among all others. Not surprisingly, many times in the Bible God states that he is calling people by their name (Gen 35:10; Ex 33:12; Is 41:25; 43:1; 45:3; 49:1). The reason for this is simply that God is always eager to establish with us a personalized relationship. God does not save groups. He saves Jane and Tom and Judy and Mike. This is what Jesus hints at in today’s gospel reading when he states that the good Shepherd “calls each of his sheep by name.” This is because he wants to touch our hearts and to win our love. By calling each one of us by name, he tells us that each one of us is unique in his eyes, irreplaceable. How shall we respond to this kind of naked love and devotion?
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