Disciple, apostle, the Twelve
Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.” (Jn 10:1-2)
This chapter of John’s Gospel uses the image everyone loves – Jesus as the Shepherd, going out to the lost sheep and putting it on his shoulders . . . the shepherd who gives his life for the sheep . . . the sheep who know him and he knows them. The passage for today refers to the gate or door of the sheepfold. The only one who can open the gate and enter the sheepfold is the shepherd.
Everyone has closed doors in their lives. Places inside ourselves where we do not want to go because we are afraid. Behind those doors are things like old hurts, addictions, health concerns, hatred, fears. Jesus is telling me that he can lead me, one of his flock, through the closed doors in my life to those places where there is trouble so I can deal with it. And then he can lead me out again. Jesus, my shepherd, is telling me: “Don’t be afraid.”
Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for “Fifth of May”) is a holiday in Mexico, and popular among Mexican-Americans in the United States. It commemorates a military victory at Puebla, Mexico, in 1862. In itself, and from a strategic point of view, the battle was not that important. But symbolically, it meant a great deal. Mexico had gained independence from Spain in 1810. This was followed by internal political wars, then the Mexican-American War, and finally the Mexican Civil War of 1858. These were now behind them, but the economy was in ruins.
France, using as an excuse Mexico’s failure to pay its debt, sent an invading army to take over Mexico City and install Napoleon’s relative, Maximilian of Austria, as ruler. The French army was moving toward Mexico City when, on May 5, 1862, a small and poorly armed detachment of Mexican soldiers defeated them. France eventually sent a much larger army that managed to take over Mexico City in 1864, but the success was short-lived, lasting only three years.
Cinco de Mayo honors the spirit of the outnumbered militia that bravely withstood the powerful French army. It stands as a symbol of courage in Mexico’s struggle for independence.* * *
Today, about a third of U.S. Catholics are Hispanic. Today is Cinco de Mayo.