Living the Gospel – May 12, 2019

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“My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me”

The story is told of a man who was traveling in the USSR. As he was traveling in the countryside, he saw two shepherds come together in the middle of the road. They had about 300 sheep between them and as the shepherds talked the sheep all become one group. The man had to wait as the shepherds talked, and he wondered how they would ever separate all those sheep. Finally, as one of the shepherds was leaving, in a low voice he bade his sheep come. The two groups separated instantly and went their ways. The sheep knew the voice of their shepherd.

Jesus is like the shepherds in this story and we must be like those sheep. Jesus wants us to hear his words; he wants us to know and believe that he is our shepherd and we are his sheep. He wants us to follow his voice; he wants us to hear his words of peace and comfort for our lives. But, sometimes you and I have a difficult time hearing him as we tune in all the sounds and words of the modern world as it rushes by.

Every day we hear a lot of diverse voices; they are telling us to do this, don’t do that, buy this, drive that, wear this, go there, vote for this, don’t vote for that. It can be overwhelming at times. But the important question of faith is “Whose voice are we listening to, what voice do we trust, what voice do we hear. Jesus is asking us to hone in on the authentic Divine voice and listen intently and then to act on what we hear. Another story is told of two men who were walking along a crowded city sidewalk. Suddenly, one of the men remarked, “Listen to the lovely sound of that cricket.” But the other man could not hear the sound. He asked his friend how he could hear the sound of a cricket amid the roar of the traffic and the sound of the people. The first man, who was a zoologist, had trained himself to hear the sounds of nature. He didn’t explain to his friend in words how he could hear the sound of the cricket, but instead, he reached into his pocket, pulled out a half dollar coin, dropped it onto the sidewalk, and watch as a dozen people began to look for the coin as they heard it clanking around amid the sounds of the traffic and the sounds of the crowded city. He turned to his friend and said, “We hear what we listen for.”

Maybe that is our problem with the voice of Jesus as he is trying to get us to follow him; we hear everything else but him.

The Jews heard, but did not believe. They saw his signs, but did not get the message. We have heard his words through the Bible, through preaching, and through the sacraments. We have seen his deeds as his Holy Spirit has worked in the lives of countless people, but sometimes we have a difficult time centering our attention on this shepherd who would guide our lives.

Do we hear his voice of hospitality that welcomes others; do we hear his voice of generosity that we share not only our money, but our time and talents as well? Do we hear his voice of justice and compassion; do we treat others as we would have them treat us? Are we listening to make sure that children have food, and families have homes, and the sick can be cared for and the uninsured don’t have to be afraid?