Jesus has always been clear that real life – abundant life – is not found in playing it safe. New life is found in taking risks for others. Jesus drives us – less than compliant sheep – out of through the door of his being so we will not just live but live for others. That’s the abundant and everlasting life that Jesus talks about. Jesus casts us out of our secure spots and calls us to follow him so we will know the green lush pastures and so others have a chance to live in that abundance also.
The sheep (and goats for that matter) that graze freely on the mountains of Crete are a sign of a quest for abundance to be shared.
In the face of Greece’s long-faltering economy, people feel driven out of the confines of the urban areas where expenses mount as incomes drop. In that atmosphere, they are resentful and fearful.
As they are thrust of where they expected to live, some are finding and sharing a rich way of life. There is a small but substantial movement of people – especially young people – who are returning to ancestral homes in rural areas, small islands and particularly to Crete.
In those open spaces, it is possible for almost anyone to make a living. With a very modest house, it is possible to grow a fertile garden. Climb the hills and pick the wild greens that are rich with nutrition. Perhaps care for the family’s ancient olive trees for a little cash. Learn the art of beekeeping to barter with honey. Send a few sheep or goats into the common land and have a home. Experience life.
Families that were scattered are being gathered up. Tiny villages, abandoned forty years ago, are becoming communities once again as values of fairness, hard work, equity, simplicity and abundance in the best things of life are shared again.
Jesus probably isn’t calling us all our urban or suburban lives. But Jesus does drive the faithful out of the confines of isolation and complacency. Jesus does thrust us out into the world to follow him in making communities of justice.
We may find that a more modest home sets us free to spend more time with others.
We may not grow greens, but rainbows as we support LGBTQ persons by marching or making signs or even baking them a wedding cake.
We may tend the ancient virtues of hospitality to the stranger and caring for the children when we are compassionate to those who cross on our borders, no matter where we stand on a wall.
We may not tend beehives, but relationships – building shelter for those who are depressed, sitting in the depths of suicidal thoughts – reducing the stigma of mental illness and offering the sweetness of companionship in the darkest of times.
We can head into the wilderness of our community and pick the strength and gifts of people who don’t yet know how much they have to offer the world – who need to be gathered to be of vital use.
We don’t have hills and mountains to traverse, but we have been sent out – thrust out – onto the streets and cul de sacs and into schools and offices and care facilities.
Jesus calls us to follow him and find the sheep – his sheep – that linger there and show them the door to the fold of God’s love.
Jesus said, “I am the door.” By this, we know we are sheltered and safe, and we know he is our savior. Jesus said, “I am the door.” By this, we know we are sent for the salvation of God’s people.