"The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice" (Jn 10: 3-4). Shepherd imagery abounds in the Synoptics (see Mk 6: 35; Lk 15: 3-7; Mt 7: 15, 10:16, 25: 32-34, etc.) and Johannine's text (especially Jn 10). What message does it convey? We can derive multiple meanings from Shepherd metaphors in the Old and new testament traditions. But for our reflection this Sunday, I would like for us to focus on the relationship between the sheep and shepherd: the sheep will only respond to the shepherd's voice. We strengthen our relationship with Jesus when we learn to listen to him always.
Do we listen to the voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd? John emphasizes again the importance of listening to the voice of Jesus in 10: 27 when he says, "My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me." So how do we hear the voice of the Good Shepherd? To listen to Jesus' voice is to know him. As St. Cyril of Alexandria wrote: "The mark of Christ's sheep is their willingness to hear and obey... People who hear God's voice are known by him." So first, we must seek to listen to Jesus' voice; second, we must follow him in the act of listening. By doing this, we know Jesus and live in him, and He in us. Listening and following is what it means to believe, to know Jesus. It is an intimate relationship compared with that of the shepherd and his sheep. To be a Christian is not to acknowledge a set of statements of faith; it is more. It is a relationship with a person who has a voice- with Jesus.
How and where do we listen to Jesus' voice? We listen to him in the Sacred Scriptures proclaimed at Mass and in our private reading and meditation. We do not merely read the bible; we hear it meditatively through the aid of the Holy Spirit. We listen to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist exposed on the altar at Adoration. We can also hear Jesus speak to us in our inner souls, in a conscience enlightened by the Holy Spirit. We can hear the voice of Jesus in the saints. We can also listen to the voice of Jesus the Good Shepherd talk to us in the words of his vicar, the popes, and the bishops. Finally, we listen to him in the encouraging and challenging words of good Christian friends, brothers and sisters.
Jesus will be here in a unique way on Monday evening to speak to us. He will be exposed in a monstrance on our altar for Adoration. Do you believe He is alive, body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Holy Eucharist? If you do, and you do, make plans with your family and friends to attend our parish's monthly Eucharistic Adoration. Come and listen to the voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Also, talk to him at Adoration about raising more vocations to the priesthood and diaconate from our parish.
Happy Good Shepherd Sunday.
Fr. Bernard, OP