Friday 27 March 2020
First Reading – John 10:1-18
10 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them. 7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
Second Reading – St Augustine’s Treatise on the Gospel of John
The twin commandments of love
The Lord himself came, the Teacher of love, full of love, shortening the word upon the earth, as it was foretold that he would do. He showed that from the two precepts of love depend the whole of the Law and the prophets.
What are these two commandments? Join me, my brethren, in recollecting them. They ought to be thoroughly familiar to you and not just come into your mind when we recite them: they ought never to be blotted out from your hearts. Always and everywhere, bear in mind that you must love God and your neighbour, love God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind; and love your neighbour as you would love yourself.
We must always ponder these words, meditate them, hold them in our minds, practise them and bring them to fruition. As far as teaching is concerned, the love of God comes first; but as far as doing is concerned, the love of our neighbour comes first. Whoever sets out to teach you these two commandments of love must not commend your neighbour to you first, and then God, but God first and then your neighbour. You, on the other hand, do not yet see God, but loving your neighbour will bring you that sight. By loving your neighbour you purify your eyes so that they are ready to see God, as John clearly says: If you do not love your brother, whom you see, how can you love God, whom you do not see?
You are told “Love God”. If you say to me “Show me whom I should love”, what can I say except what John says? No man has ever seen God. But you must not think yourself wholly unsuited to seeing God: God is love, says John, and whoever dwells in love dwells in God. So love whoever is nearest to you and look inside you to see where that love is coming from: thus, as far as you are capable, you will see God.
So start to love your neighbour. Share your bread with the hungry, bring the homeless pauper into your house. Clothe the naked, and do not despise the servants of your kin.
What will you get from doing all this? Your light will break forth like the dawn. Your light is your God, your dawn, because he will come to you to end the night of this world — he who, himself, neither rises nor sets but is eternal.
By loving your neighbour, by having care for your neighbour, you are travelling on a journey. Where are you journeying, except to the Lord God, whom we must love with all our heart and all our soul and all our mind? We have not yet reached the Lord, but our neighbour is with us already. So support your neighbour, who is travelling with you, so that you may reach him with whom you long to dwell.