April 21, 2013: 4th Sunday of Easter
Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” (John 10:27-30)
This short passage from St. John’s Gospel ends a long series of sayings by Jesus on the “shepherd” theme. He evidently found a lot of inspiration in the lives of shepherds and saw lots of similarities to what he wanted to do for and with his followers—his “flock of sheep.”
Further on in this same chapter, the “shepherd” theme continues: “The sheep know the shepherd’s voice; the shepherd calls them by name . . . the sheep follow because they recognize the shepherd’s voice . . . I came that they might have life and have it to the full . . . I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd would die for the sheep.”
Do we really believe these promises of Jesus, these ways of describing what it is like to be his follower? He knows us, knows our names, calls us often enough that we can recognize his voice, leads us to places of rest and nourishment, wants to give us life abundant and eternal, has no intention of ever letting us go.
Sometimes it is hard to know if we are really hearing the voice of our good shepherd. Try to carve out five or ten minutes in your day when phones, computers, TV, games are all off and we can listen for that voice within.