How many of you have dogs? As I’m sure, you know dogs are usually good about responding to their given name. Especially a well-trained dog will respond to many commands. I had a golden retriever as a kid named Lucy, and we taught her to get our paper in the morning. She would go out about 10 feet turn back to us, and one of us would shout “Lucy where’s my paper?” She runs out another 10 feet turned around, and we said the same phrase. Finally, she ran all the way and brought back our paper. When she began doing this, she didn’t fully understand what we wanted. She would get our paper but then she thought. If my master likes the newspaper, let me go get more of them. Eventually, we had to train her only to get ours and not also the neighbors. While we are certainly not animals I think we can learn something from them in light of today’s Gospel in how they follow their master.
Today we hear about Christ the Good Shepherd, and he tells us “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” I find it interesting that Jesus compares himself to a shepherd and us as his sheep. It should make us ask the question, do I hear the Lord in my life, do I know him and am I willing to follow him
First of all, do we hear the voice of God in our daily lives. It seems in our world today that it may be getting harder and harder to hear God’s voice. As technology progresses, it seems easier to distract ourselves with noise and tune out what God may be saying to us. For me when I get home, it’s easy to turn on the TV, or watch Netflix. In my own life, I need to work on disconnecting myself from technology, so I can more easily hear God’s voice. God’s challenge to us in our lives is to find that time away from noise and distraction. God does speak to us but we need to be able to hear him, we have to be listening for his voice to notice it.
o we find time for silence in our lives? Here we have (Ascension has) an excellent adoration chapel open most of the day every day; it is a great place to sit in silence. I try and find silence before the Lord in the tabernacle or adoration daily. I know for me this is the spiritual food that keeps me going, and it allows me to have a relationship with the Lord. We can find other times for silence in our own lives. For me, I need to occasionally in the car turn off my radio and drive in silence. I could take a couple of day break from Netflix or the TV and read some spiritual books instead. I believe our Lord sees the small ways that we seek him in silence and comes to us in that effort.
Next, Jesus tells us “I know my sheep, and they follow me.” Our Lord knows us more than we know ourselves and out of his knowledge of us, he calls us to follow him. Do we know how much the Lord loves us, what he desires for our life, what he did for us so that we can have eternal life? Our Lord looks on us in love, as his sons and daughters for whom he died on the cross. Do we take the time to reflect on that in our own lives?
I believe we should also ask ourselves, do we know the Lord? Do we find time in our lives to get to know the Lord through the scriptures? Do we know the Lord in the Eucharist? Do we know the Lord in such a way that if he were to call out to us would we be able to recognize his voice?
What I’ve heard is that sheep are able to recognize the voice of their shepherd. I recently saw a video showing a shepherd standing in the middle of the field by himself. He starts calling out for his sheep, and at first, it seems they aren’t coming. However, from a distance, you see them coming and responding to his voice. Those sheep know the voice of their shepherd, and they respond to it when he calls them. Jesus too calls out to us in our own lives, do we know his voice? Will we respond if he calls out to us?
Finally, our challenge from the Lord is that he calls us to follow him. If we hear his voice, if we know his voice than hopefully too when we hear his voice, we can follow him as well. When we hear his voice are we willing to follow him no matter where he leads us? God calls all of us to follow him in a vocation in life. First, he calls all of us to love him and to love our neighbor. This is our fundamental call in life to love God and to love one another. However, God too may call us to something more; he may call us to follow him in married life as many of you are doing right now, raising a family who also knows and loves the Lord. However, he may be calling some of you to religious life or the priesthood. A question we should reflect on is, are we willing to respond to whatever God calls us too?
Jesus told us that “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. ” The way animals interact with their owners can teach us about our relationship with the Lord. May we be able to listen to God’s voice, know that it is him calling us and be willing to follow him wherever he goes.