On this Good Shepherd Sunday, Jesus tells us that He knows his sheep and his sheep hear his voice. Just as the Palestinian shepherds knew each sheep of their flock by name, and the sheep knew their shepherd and his voice, so Jesus knows each one of us, our needs, our merits and our faults. He loves us as we are, with all our limitations, and He expects us to return his love by listening and fervently responding in faith to his voice. God communicates with us in silence, and through Sacred Scripture, the Sacraments, and other people.
God talks to us in silence, not in noise and screaming and jumping and yelling. He tells us, “I am your shepherd, and my Son is your shepherd, and He walks in great silence through your whole life, every morning, all day, day after day, month after month, year after year.” You have to listen and hear and open your heart to the wonder of the Good Shepherd’s silent caring for you, worrying about you, guiding you through all kinds of situations, and yet you know that He will never leave you, He will always be there, and His joy is to be at the center of the silence in our lives.
Through the inspired words of Sacred Scripture, the Lord speaks to our hearts. Attentive listening to the Readings, the Responsorial Psalm, the Gospel and the Homily every time we attend Mass, fills our minds and our hearts with the voice of God. The daily practice of ‘Lectio Divina’ which is the meditative, sacred reading of a passage from the Holy Bible, is another excellent means to become imbued with the mind of Christ.
The Lord communicates with us powerfully through his gift of the Sacraments. He gives eternal life to us, his sheep by receiving us into his sheepfold, and giving us Faith through Baptism. He strengthens our Faith in Confirmation. The tremendous gift of His Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist sharpens our ability to listen and respond in love to his Divine Inspirations in our life. He makes our society holy through the Sacraments of Matrimony and Holy Orders.
Jesus is more than just a shepherd because He is the gate. He is the way to enter a new space, the space where we do what He calls us to do. It is Jesus’ voice which calls us to greater concern for each other and for building a community of trusting relationships so all can benefit. As Jesus knows and cares for us, so should we know and care for each other. That is the space He wants us in. We need to create that space.
Let us resolve to create spaces of silence in our lives, to prayerfully reflect on Sacred Scripture, frequently receive the Sacraments and show love and concern for others. Listen to Jesus, your Shepherd calling you. Listen to others actively. Become a listener!
May the Good Shepherd bless you!
Sr. Kathleen Fitzpatrick, IHM