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21st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Ages 3-6): Where do you come from? Who do you belong to?

(Adults, for our youngest children, we spend time enjoying the relationship with God before ever considering what happens when we break that relationship. This reflection, then, only looks at the joy at the heart of the Gospel reading.)

In the Gospel for this Sunday, Jesus speaks of knowing and not knowing. It reminds us of the Good Shepherd who knows his own sheep and his own sheep know him. We can wonder what it means to know someone.

Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem...He said to the people, “Strive to enter through the narrow door...

What can Jesus be speaking about? What is this narrow door? A narrow door lets only one person in or out at a time...or one sheep at a time. Perhaps Jesus is thinking about the sheepfold of the Good Shepherd. It has a gate that opens and closes. The gate lets the sheep enter so that they can be together with the Good Shepherd.

Jesus tells the people a parable. In the parable, someone knocks on the door, but the person inside answers,

I do not know where you come from.

This does not sound like the Good Shepherd speaking to his sheep, because the Good Shepherd says,

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. (John 10:14-15a)

With Jesus, the Good Shepherd there is a lot of knowing. He knows what the sheep need. He knows each one by name. The sheep know his voice. This knowing makes the sheep feel safe, doesn't it? They know that they are loved.

In the parable, the person talks about knowing where someone comes from. We can think about where we come from. We might know the name of the street we live on, the name of our city, the name of the country we live in. Does Jesus know this about us, too. Oh, yes. With Jesus, the Good Shepherd there is a lot of knowing.

We can ask the question another way: Who do we come from? Who are the people who know us by name? Who do we belong to? Who are the people who help us know God?

Jesus says,

" Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God."

East, west, north, south—all directions, all the world! The narrow door opens to let people from all the world into the Kingdom of God. And what do they do in the Kingdom of God? They eat! How good it is to belong to the Good Shepherd and eat together in the Kingdom of God!

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