Today is Good Shepherd Sunday and this image of the shepherd who gathers, protects, and lays down his life for his sheep is a very endearing image. This image has been around from the early days of Christianity. The gospel today is a very short gospel but it is packed with theological significance.
“The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice” What is it that is so special about a voice? We are all very familiar with the programme on television: ‘the Voice of Ireland’. John Henry Newman said: “a text can leave us cold but a voice can melt us”. Many times we can remember the voice of people who were so dear to us; I can still remember the voice of my mother even though she has passed away 20 years ago. I would often comment with my siblings our mother would say this and you could almost hear her saying it. Christianity is not a set of ideas, it is not an ideology, a philosophy; Christianity is a relationship with someone who has a voice. Christianity began with a group of followers who sat at the feet of Jesus of Nazareth and they heard his voice. “Fides ex auditu” St. Paul said; “faith comes from hearing”. We have a similar phrase here in our folklore: the faith is caught not taught. Two thousand years later we still hear his voice. How do we hear his voice?
- We hear hear his voice at mass when we hear the scripture being read. We hear his voice when Our Pope and bishops speak to us.
- We hear the voice of God in our conscience, when you are faced with a moral decision we hear the voice of God. We know that in responding to that voice we are pleasing or offending someone.
- We hear the voice of God in good spiritual friends, people who comfort us, encourage us, and challenge us to higher ideals.
The sheep, even though they are thoughtless animals, they would recognize and respond to the voice of the shepherd. We must also recognize and respond to the voice of God amidst the cacophony of voices that are out there. With social media so prominent in our world today there are so many voices vying for our attention out there. To whom do we listen?
“”I give them eternal life and they will never be lost”. Why do we listen to Jesus and try to follow his voice, because he is leading us to eternal life, the life of heaven. The Christian faith is about a journey that will lead us to the heavenly Jerusalem, eternal life. Let yourself be led by the voice of God, hang on keep on going, that voice will lead you to eternal