Pastoral Direction – “Hear My Voice”

A popular contemporary English author in the field of spirituality, Margaret Silf, relates the following story in her book, Simple Faith:

A young financial planner was on the fast track to a successful and lucrative career – until his life fell apart when his marriage ended. He had to move into a small rented apartment. Most of his savings were consumed by an acrimonious divorce settlement. And, worst of all, he became a “weekend” dad to his two beloved children.

Talking with a friend after the maelstrom had subsided, he summed up what he learned from the devastating losses that had dramatically changed in his once shining life:

“I have learned so much in the past year. I used to think I wanted a bigger house, expensive holidays, a fast car, and I told myself I wanted these as much for the family as for myself. Now I have come to understand that there are only two questions that really matter: How I will spend my time, and with whom?”

Jesus says that the disciple is one who listens. In the midst of the “noise” of our lives, in the clamor of the expectations made of us, in our mad dash to secure the lifestyles we want (or think we want) for ourselves and our families, the voice of Christ, the Good Shepherd, “speaks” to us in the depths of our hearts, in the pull of our consciences, in the emptiness of our spirits. What is our experience of listening to the Word of God in the Scriptures? To what other voices have we listened and found guidance?

The faithful disciple is also one who follows the path of love that Jesus preached and practiced. Although it may be difficult at times, it is in following it that we find life. Where have we had the experience of listening, responding, loving, and finding life?

Sheep, Lambs, flocks and shepherds are all images that are close to the heart of Jesus.

“I am the good shepherd, I lay down my life for my sheep.”

Jesus’ mission was one of saving. Sheep stray, sheep get tangled in bushes and fences, sheep get stolen and in some cases killed by wild creatures or wicked men. Here Jesus challenges us to listen carefully to His message.

The Father and we are one, how can we possibly be tempted to listen to other voices or stray into other fields or meadows? Yet sheep do exactly that. It is their nature to stray and get lost. Even while watching a sheepdog gathering a flock together one finds that some will try to bolt and go their own way. After Calvary the disciples fled. They ran away. Here Jesus has called them back. Here Jesus’ voice is one of mercy and assurance. No one can steal from the Father.

During this Easter season we are celebrating the presence of the Risen Lord in our lives and in our world. Jesus tells us that he knows his flock and because of this ‘knowing’, they follow him. As Christians we are called towards ‘knowing’ God more deeply. No matter what our role in our community, parish, church and so on, it is important to remember what it is that brings us together – the desire to know God, to know God’s love and to share that love and ‘knowledge’ with others, especially, as Pope Francis encourages us, those who are lost and are at the margins.

This week let us try to recognize the deep desire within ourselves to know God more fully. Then let us reflect on what that means for us and what it means for those we meet in our day to day lives.