The Good Shepherd
In referring to Himself as a shepherd, Jesus gives us a way to more fully appreciate His ministry. In our gospel today, Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.”
One of the great dangers for us is in not recognizing Jesus in our lives, like sheep not hearing the voice of the shepherd. It is very easy for us to fail to discern His will because we cannot separate His voice from the many others clamoring for our attention. Such is the nature of this complex and difficult twenty-first century world, full of potential distractions. Everywhere we go there are voices calling out, voices that say, “Buy this,” or “Do this,” or “Say this,” or “Act this way.” There are voices competing with one another, vying for our attention, seeking to gain control of our lives in big and little ways.
So, we Christians must keep our ears tuned to the voice of Jesus, our Good Shepherd, calling out in the midst of those other voices. Of course, the danger is that if we do not know how to recognize His voice, there is no way for us to walk through life under the protection of His love and care. The good news is that we can experience joy if we recognize the voice of Jesus as we make the journey through life. When we act confidently in the presence of Jesus and hear His reassuring voice, it becomes easier to follow the way of our Lord: Easier to love our enemies, easier to offer forgiveness to one who has hurt us, easier to turn the other cheek, easier to bear witness to Jesus. We will be acting confidently, reassured by the presence of the one whose voice we recognize.
The Jesus whose lordship we proclaim this day is truly our Good Shepherd whose presence is constantly with us, His flock. The challenge for each of us is to learn to listen for His voice, putting forward the time and effort to clearly recognize His voice when He calls to us.