On the Fourth Sunday of Easter each year, we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday. We thank God today that we have a shepherd in Jesus, and that he is so good that he guides us to eternal life, and even as he says in our gospel today and in the psalm, to life in abundance here on earth, to green and fertile and peaceful pastures. If only we follow the shepherd that is Jesus, then we will get to heaven and have a life filled with blessings on earth. As he says in our gospel today: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
Thing of it is, we’ll never get either heaven or life to the full on earth if we don’t follow the Good Lord Jesus our Shepherd. Jesus is the Shepherd. We are the sheep. The flock is the Church. The sheep are lost without the shepherd and without one another. A sheep by himself will quickly get eaten, devoured by the wolves and bad guys. Or he will walk off the cliff. But with the shepherd, the sheep live. They have life. Inasmuch as one remains in the flock, s/he will be fine. But when we leave it by sin or whatever, we put ourselves in a dangerous position.
All we have to do is listen to His Voice and we’ll be good to go! Jesus says, “I know my sheep, and they know me…they know my voice and they follow!”
Do we know his voice?
I watched a documentary sometime ago or read something about what the experts do to fight against counterfeit money. I guess I imagined that they would study all the new trends in counterfeiting….see what they’re doing in New York nowadays, or what new sytem they’re using in LA to make fake money. But all they do is study the real thing. If you study the real $100 bill, then you can spot a fake a mile away.
It’s the same with the Voice of the Shepherd. If we study His Voice, then we can spot a fake a mile away….whenever those bad guys come and say, “Hey, try this” or “You don’t have to go to confession” or “Don’t worry, just do what you want.” If we really know the voice of the Shepherd, then when these little voices whisper to us this or that, then we will know….from a thousand miles away….that’s not a voice I should listen to.
The best way to know his voice? Read the Scriptures daily and receive Holy Communion. How many of us have time to read facebook and papers and whatnot but don’t have time somehow to read even a few verses of scripture each day? It’s the voice of God there! And in holy communion, which 100 of our kids will receive today for the first time, the Shepherd will dwell within! He will speak to us from within! Guide us from within.
A final thought. Jesus is the shepherd. He also says he is the gate. And we know he is also our reward. That means that Jesus leads us to Jesus, and through Jesus we get more Jesus! It’s all Jesus. May we know his voice and follow and enjoy his company forever.