Lectio notes: John 10: 1-18


Chapter ten of St John's Gospel gives us the image of Christ as the door of the sheep-fold and the good shepherd, and contrasts this with robbers who try and get into the sheepfold other than by the door, and wolves who prey on the sheep.  Such thieves and robbers are all too prevalent in our own time!

Read

The New Advent page for John 10 can be found here; the Douay-Rheims translation here.  You can hear the Latin read aloud here and the Greek here.

The Latin:

1 Amen, amen dico vobis: qui non intrat per ostium in ovile ovium, sed ascendit aliunde, ille fur est et latro. 2 Qui autem intrat per ostium, pastor est ovium. 3 Huic ostiarius aperit, et oves vocem ejus audiunt, et proprias ovas vocat nominatim, et educit eas. 4 Et cum proprias oves emiserit, ante eas vadit: et oves illum sequuntur, quia sciunt vocem ejus. 5 Alienum autem non sequuntur, sed fugiunt ab eo: quia non noverunt vocem alienorum. 6 Hoc proverbium dixit eis Jesus: illi autem non cognoverunt quid loqueretur eis. 7 Dixit ergo eis iterum Jesus: Amen, amen dico vobis, quia ego sum ostium ovium. 8 Omnes quotquot venerunt, fures sunt, et latrones, et non audierunt eos oves. 9 Ego sum ostium. Per me si quis introierit, salvabitur: et ingredietur, et egredietur, et pascua inveniet. 10 Fur non venit nisi ut furetur, et mactet, et perdat. Ego veni ut vitam habeant, et abundantius habeant.11 Ego sum pastor bonus. Bonus pastor animam suam dat pro ovibus suis. 12 Mercenarius autem, et qui non est pastor, cujus non sunt oves propriæ, videt lupum venientem, et dimittit oves, et fugit: et lupus rapit, et dispergit oves; 13 mercenarius autem fugit, quia mercenarius est, et non pertinet ad eum de ovibus. 14 Ego sum pastor bonus: et cognosco meas, et cognoscunt me meæ. 15 Sicut novit me Pater, et ego agnosco Patrem: et animam meam pono pro ovibus meis. 16 Et alias oves habeo, quæ non sunt ex hoc ovili: et illas oportet me adducere, et vocem meam audient, et fiet unum ovile et unus pastor. 17 Propterea me diligit Pater: quia ego pono animam meam, ut iterum sumam eam. 18 Nemo tollit eam a me: sed ego pono eam a meipso, et potestatem habeo ponendi eam, et potestatem habeo iterum sumendi eam. Hoc mandatum accepi a Patre meo.

The English:

Amen, amen I say to you: He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up another way, the same is a thief and a robber. [2] But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. [3] To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. [4] And when he hath let out his own sheep, he goeth before them: and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice. [5] But a stranger they follow not, but fly from him, because they know not the voice of strangers.[6] This proverb Jesus spoke to them. But they understood not what he spoke to them. [7] Jesus therefore said to them again: Amen, amen I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. [8] All others, as many as have come, are thieves and robbers: and the sheep heard them not. [9] I am the door. By me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved: and he shall go in, and go out, and shall find pastures. [10] The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I am come that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly.[11] I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd giveth his life for his sheep. [12] But the hireling, and he that is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and flieth: and the wolf catcheth, and scattereth the sheep: [13] And the hireling flieth, because he is a hireling: and he hath no care for the sheep. [14] I am the good shepherd; and I know mine, and mine know me. [15] As the Father knoweth me, and I know the Father: and I lay down my life for my sheep.[16] And other sheep I have, that are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd. [17] Therefore doth the Father love me: because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. [18] No man taketh it away from me: but I lay it down of myself, and I have power to lay it down: and I have power to take it up again. This commandment have I received of my Father. 

Study

These days many advocate 'openness to the world' and laud the good works of atheists, non-Christians and non-Catholics. The anthology of readings provided by the Catena Aurea invite us to consider a more traditional view of the necessity of the protection afforded by the Church:

"CHRYS. Our Lord having reproached the Jews with blindness, they might have said, We are not blind, but we avoid you as a deceiver. Our Lord therefore gives the marks which distinguish a robber and deceiver from a true shepherd. First come those of the deceiver and robber: Verily, verily, I say to you, He that enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 

There is an allusion here to Antichrist, and to certain false Christs who had been, and were to be. The Scriptures He calls the door. They admit us to the knowledge of God, they protect the sheep, they shut out the wolves, they bar the entrance to heretics. He that uses not the Scriptures, but climbs up some other way, i.e. some self-chosen, some unlawful way, is a thief. Climbs up, He says, not, enters, as if it were a thief getting over a wall, and running all risks. 

Some other way, may refer too to the commandments and traditions of men which the Scribes taught, to the neglect of the Law. When our Lord further on calls Himself the Door, we need not be surprised. According to the office which He bears, He is in one place the Shepherd, in another the Sheep. In that He introduces us to the Father, He is the Door, in that He takes care of us, He is the Shepherd.

AUG. Or thus: Many go under the name of good men according to the standard of the world, and observe in some sort the commandments of the Law, who yet are not Christians. And these generally boast of themselves, as the Pharisees did; Are we blind also? But inasmuch as all that they do they do foolishly, without knowing to what end it tends, our Lord said of them, Verily, verily, I say to you, He that enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 

Let the Pagans then, the Jews, the Heretics, say, "We lead a good life;" if they enter not by the door, what avails it? A good life only profits, as leading to life eternal. Indeed those cannot be said to lead a good life, who are either blindly ignorant of, or willfully despise, the end of good living. No one can hope for eternal life, who knows not Christ, who is the life, and by that door enters into the fold. 

Whoso wishes to enter into the sheepfold, let him enter by the door; let him preach Christ; let him seek Christ's glory, not his own. Christ is a lowly door, and he who enters by this door must be lowly, if he would enter with his head whole. He that does not humble, but exalt himself, who wishes to climb up over the wall, is exalted that he may fall. Such men generally try to persuade others that they may live well, and not be Christians. Thus they climb up by some other way, that they may rob and kill. They are thieves, because they call that their own, which is not; robbers, because that which they have stolen, they kill. 

By contrast, entering by the door requires us to respond to the grace God offers us with humility and willingness to pick up our cross in imitation of Christ:

AUG. He enters by the door, who enters by Christ, who imitates the suffering of Christ, who is acquainted with the humility of Christ, so as to feel and know, that if God became man for us, man should not think himself God, but man. He who being man wishes to appear God, does not imitate Him, who being God, became man. You are bid to think less of yourself than you are, but to know what you are...

And He calls His own sheep by name. 

He knew the names of the predestinated; as He said to His disciples, Rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

 Yet the sheep do not stay in the sheepfold all the time, only being guarded there at night.  During the day, the shepherd leads them out into the pastures:

CHRYS. He led out the sheep, when He sent them not out of the reach of, but into the midst of, the wolves. There seems to he a secret allusion to the blind man. He called him out of the midst of the Jews; and he heard His voice.

AUG. And who is He who leads them out, but the Same who loosens the chain of their sins, that they may follow Him with free unfettered step? 

GLOSS. And when He puts forth His own sheep, He goes before them, He leads them out from the darkness of ignorance into light, while He goes before in the pillar of cloud, and fire. 

CHRYS. Shepherds always go behind their sheep; but He, on the contrary, goes before, to show that He would lead all to the truth...

AUG. What is this, shall go in and out? To enter into the Church by Christ the Door, is a very good thing, but to go out of the Church is not. Going in must refer to inward cogitation; going out to outward action; as in the Psalm, Man goes forth to his work. 

THEOPHYL. Or, to go in is to watch over the inner man; to go out, to mortify the outward man, i.e. our members which are upon the earth. He that does this shall find pasture in the life to come. 

CHRYS. Or, He refers to the Apostles who went in and out boldly; for they became the masters of the world, none could turn them out of their kingdom, and they found pasture.

What should we do when confronted, as we so often are, by hirelings and even wolves posing as shepherds?

AUG. We must love the shepherd, beware of the wolf, tolerate the hireling. For the hireling is useful so long as he sees not the wolf, the thief, and the robber. When he sees them, he flees.

AUG. Indeed he would not be a hireling, did he not receive wages from the hirer. Sons wait patiently for the eternal inheritance of their father; the hireling looks eagerly for the temporal wages from his hirer; and yet the tongues of both speak abroad the glory of Christ. 

The hireling hurts, in that he does wrong, not in that he speaks right: the grape bunch hangs amid thorns; pluck the grape, avoid the thorn. Many that seek temporal advantages in the Church, preach Christ, and through them Christ's voice is heard; and the sheep follow not the hireling, but the voice of the Shepherd heard through the hireling.

The next set of lectio notes can be found here.

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