(Easter 4A John 10:1-10)
When it comes to the Gospels, I never hesitate to name Mark as my favorite. I struggle with John, with the way that intensely developed theology is swallowed whole by some Christians today without attention to the context of time and place so necessary to a clearer understanding. I struggle with John's narrowness.
I had a moment recently where someone suggested I sit in an empty chair at a restaurant table, but I could not picture myself squeezing through the available space, past other diners, to get to it. Once at the chair, all would have been well, but getting to the banquet table appeared to be the problem.
Rather than ask someone to move, I went away.
I wonder how narrow the gate to enter our churches feels to people who never even get to see the available chair, the space God hopes they might occupy. You have to be pretty comfortable to ask, pretty confident that you will get a favorable response, before you ask others to get out of the way and make the gate or the door or even the parking lot more readily accessible.
This is not what the author of John was thinking about, in my humble opinion. He was thinking about how to define the territory, to make it clear who was in and who was out, to establish a meaning for a new, or new-ish, community.
Most of us are not engaged in that work, at all. Most of us are engaged in the work of trying to make the gate wider again, to let more people in, to share the Good News with those who need to hear it. That Good News is not about the narrowness of the gate but about the abundance of love available to those who will receive it.
Sometimes we have to brazen our way to it, squeeze past the obstacles, in order to believe it's true.