4th Sunday of Easter - Year C - 17th April, 2016

Hearing His Voice

The image of the Good Shepherd is one that has been popular for generations. Most of us

have at some time or other been given a picture of Jesus surrounded by sheep, holding a young lamb in His arms.

For many of us life is hard-going and the idea of being able to lean on Jesus is one that holds many attractions. There is something appealing in the idea of being looked after with such tenderness, and yet something makes us hesitate. Do we really want a shepherd?

Are we drawn to the image it presents, or do we sometimes chafe at the idea of not being independent. Do we want the kind of love, protection and care Jesus offers? Like a young three year old, we want our independence. We say, “I can do it myself!”

Our time and culture have made us reluctant to be so dependent on anyone. We feel that we have to carve out our own path - look after ourselves. However this parable of the Good Shepherd is not so much about our believing in Jesus, but rather Jesus’ believing in us.

God does not love us because we are good or because we are especially lovable, but because we are who we are. His children. Religion is not about what we do for God. Religion is what we allow God to do for us.

What he is telling us in the parable is that he is incapable of loving a little, incapable of loving only partially. His love for us is overflowing; it is lavish in its extent and in its depth. Can we accept that love and listen to His voice?

We probably would not admit it - even to ourselves - yet, somewhere deep inside us is that part of us that would like to be held like the little lamb protected and looked after. I think it will be especially true in our final hours as we face the uncertainty of death.

Pope Francis tells us that “Jesus’ voice is unique. If we learn to distinguish it, he guides us on the path of life, a path that goes beyond even the abyss of death.” and that is where, ultimately, the Good Shepherd is leading us to.

Let us put aside our self seeking and listen to that inner voice that is calling each of us to follow him. Let us put our trust in Him.

“My sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish” 

Fr Kevin O'Shea, C.M.