Hearing His voice
25 Apr 2021
FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
GOOD SHEPHERD SUNDAY
“I am the Good Shepherd and I know mine and mine know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father.” - John 10:14
“I am the gate for the sheep. Whoever enters through Me will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. The Gatekeeper opens it for Him, and the sheep hear His voice, as the shepherd calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has driven out all His own, He walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow Him.” - John 10: 9, 3, 4
We find in the Gospel of John the great “I AM’s of Jesus.” I am the living bread which has come down from heaven.” (John 6:51), I am the living water.” (John 4:10) “I am the Light of the World.” (John 8:12), “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” (John 14:6) and “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25). Each of these great “I AM’s” of Jesus brings about not only the declaration of His Divinity, as God’s only begotten Son, but each declaration brings about the blessed assurance of spiritual enlightenment, fulfillment, and guidance for all who seek His Way, His Truth, and His Life.
On this the 4th Sunday of Easter, we read of another great “I AM” of Jesus “I am the Good shepherd.” Jesus proclaims in today’s Gospel that He
You know, of all our physical senses, the ability to hear is one of the most important. While there are so many beautiful sounds, we hear in listening to music, and in yjr stillness of nature, there are also many daily external sounds, we hear every day, that are distractions, and these distortions makes us deaf to the quiet sounds of the Master’s inner voice, calling to us, as a shepherd, in the quietness and the depths of our souls.
We learn in our catechetical instruction, that each of us, born in the likeness and image of God, possesses His breath and spirit in our “conscience” and that this “conscience” is His voice. In today’s Gospel, we read that our Lord calls out to His sheep by name and upon hearing His voice, they follow Him. It can be said that we are all called each day by this inner voice, which exists deep within each of us to follow Him and His Gospel. We are directed, through the teachings of Jesus, to strive daily to hear His voice. My brothers and sisters, I believe that when we search and read Holy Scripture, and then meditate and reflect on its wisdom, we begin to align ourselves closer to that voice and begin to hear this voice a little clearer, and a little stronger. In the end, this voice brings each of us closer to the “Shepherd and the Guardian of our souls,” the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:25).
We also learn from catechetical instruction, that prayer, is an essential tool, that helps centers ourselves to hear that voice, apart from all the distractions in our outside world. I do not know how many of us truly understand the meaning of the term, “The Word (the Logia) that was made flesh?”
We learn that in Palestine and others parts of the world, shepherds have the uncanny ability of making sounds that can not only lead the entire flock but also individual sheep. The layout of the land in Palestine, where sheep would graze, is very rocky. It is easy for sheep, as they graze, to get lost among the rocks and the outcroppings. But when the shepherd calls out, the sheep hear his own voice through a series of whistles, singing or what we could call today “baby talk.” The sheep know of the uniqueness of their shepherd’s voice and will not hearken or be led by a stranger’s voice.
It can also be said that sheep are not the smartest of animals, just like humans. Humans, like sheep tend to wander and place themselves in dangerous situations and just like sheep can be taken away by others, robbers, and thieves, who would steal them away from the Shepherd. Now the Resurrected Christ, as being the Good Shepherd, calls out to those who have become lost due to their own choices. He calls out to them, gently by name. But unlike sheep, many humans will not always come back to the safety of the flock. And in the end, so many will be devoured in the world. Because of our free will, we all are given a choice, to either listen or ignore that inner voice that calls out to each of us to be tended and led.
And so, my brothers and sisters: The Lord calls out to each of us today, to find the safety and security of being a part of His chosen flock. He is there during our days as our overseer and at nights as a protector. We only need to listen to His voice within for guidance, direction, and inspiration. We read that our Lord knows each one of us by name, but the question is do asked: Do we know Him? Do we tend to graze away from the guidance of our Shepherd? And do we truly believe and trust that He knows our daily needs?
May we all “hearken” unto the voice of the Resurrected Lord this day and find assurance in the words spoken by Saint Peter who wrote in His first letter to Rome: “And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”
Rev. Fr. Robert M. Koerber