Divine Dialogue of God with the Soul
Today, let’s talk about sheep (John 10:27-30). They aren’t the smartest of God’s creatures, but they are fiercely loyal–to the one who cares for them.
My parents certainly weren’t sheep herders but we did have one ewe lamb named Humphrey (she had the face of a camel but NO hump), and we loved her. But it was my younger brother who loved her best, and truly, Humphrey only had eyes for him. She made the front page of our local paper once, as she followed Marc who was doing his small rural paper route on his horse. I can still see Humphrey trotting behind him and Rowdy, unconcerned about the destination, ready to go to the ends of the earth as long as Marc was leading her.
Today’s Gospel brings this image to mind as Jesus tells His disciples, I am the Good Shepherd. I know my sheep and they know Me. They hear my voice and they follow Me. I think, as I reflect on this, that the Gospel is as much about us, the sheep, as it is about Jesus, the Shepherd. He wants us to be as trusting as a lamb, knowing that the Shepherd will never allow anything to happen to us except for our good, with the intent of drawing us close to His Heart. It’s all about never taking our eyes off Him, listening for His voice in the many ways He chooses to make Himself heard, and to follow Him wherever He goes without fearing for our own welfare. The difference between Humphrey and us, though, is that for her it was probably instinct (we won’t tell Marc). For us it’s a question of love, of desiring to follow Him because we know that He is not sending us, but taking us to the place He has prepared for us.
This involves something called discernment, which is a deliberate act of seeking to determine whose voice we are listening to—our own voice, the voice of the evil one, the voice of the world, or the voice of our Good Shepherd. Sometimes it’s easier than at other times, to know which voice is God’s. We aren’t always successful, and we can make mistakes, but God doesn’t hold that against us. He knows our eyes are sometimes blinded and our ears can be mistaken as we listen for His Word. Our heart, after all, wants only to do the Will of God, and to go only where He is asking us to go.
Discernment is the work of the Holy Spirit. He helps us to discern the Voice of our loving Shepherd Jesus, and the same Spirit keeps us on the path that brings us forever and always into His embrace.
As we listen to the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel, we can be sure of one thing:
As long as we only have eyes—and ears—for Jesus, we will reach our destination with Jesus. There is great peace in remembering that.
Happy Mother’s Day to all our Mothers
and to those who have been like a mother to us.
May Mary, the beautiful Mother of Jesus and of our souls,
keep us ever close to Her Son.