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  Our Lord Jesus said to his beloved disciples: "Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit…" (John 10:1).  Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples, and they did not understand. Then he said, "Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate…” (John 10:7-9). 
            Our Lord said that He was the door of the sheepfold. Now what is this sheepfold of which Christ is the door? It is the heart of the Father. Christ is truly the precious door into the adorable heart of God, who has indeed unlocked and opened it to us; for it was locked to all humankind. In this sheepfold all the saints are assembled. The shepherd is the Eternal Word; the door is Christ's humanity….
            But what of the door-keeper of this house? It is the Holy Spirit; for as St Ambrose and also St Jerome have said, all truth that is understood or spoken always comes from the Holy Spirit. We have already spoken in these days of Pentecost of how the Holy Spirit stirs people's hearts, persuading and driving them, hunting them down relentlessly, and anyone who is truly turned to the Holy Spirit will have discovered the truth of our words. Oh, how lovingly and tenderly he unlocks this door, this fatherly heart, and ceaselessly opens to all comers the hidden treasure, the secret places, and the riches of this house. For no one can possibly conceive or understand how open, how ready, how accessible and thirsty for us God is, how easily God runs to meet us at every moment and every hour of the day. Oh children! Time after time we have withstood this loving invitation…!
            This Door-keeper calls forth his own sheep. The Shepherd, too, calls them out, and leads them. He who is the Eternal Word of the Father calls them by name and leads them forth. He goes on ahead, and they follow him. Where does this Shepherd lead and call the sheep? To his own home. If he goes before, it is that they may follow him into the sheepfold, the Father's heart, where he has his own dwelling, his being, his resting place….
            And who is the thief who steals there? It is a treacherous twist in human nature; it is the possessiveness and false attachment which make you desire to draw everything to yourself, to snatch whatever you can from God or from creatures. You would lay hands on everything, seeking to satisfy your own sensibility and your own self-will. If you think you have achieved some good, you attribute it to your own doing. You want to have pleasure, consolation, experience and feeling; to be great, holy and blessed, with experience and knowledge of all things. You want to be somebody, and are never willing to lose yourself. This is the thief who slinks in to rob God of honour, and humanity of all truth and perfection. Oh, children, children, what great harm this thief does to humankind, more than all the thieves who have ever been hanged since the beginning of time. Take good stock of yourselves in this matter; watch and be wise to yourselves.   

In their many different idioms the classical spiritual writers have attempted to throw light on the eternal question of union with God. 
Every month we give you a brief passage from a spiritual classic.