Have you heard the voice of the Shepherd?
In general, yes, we’ve all heard the voice of the Shepherd. We’ve heard the Gospel, we’ve learned the faith, and we’ve responded to it the best that we can. But I want you to consider this question in a very personal, very experiential way. Have you heard the voice of the Shepherd?
In the Christian tradition there have been those who heard God speaking to them in a real, physical sense. This is by all accounts rare, and should always be approached with skepticism and caution. But set that aside because I’m not asking if you have experienced that. There are other experiences of finding God reaching out to you that are neither dramatically miraculous but also not just symbolic rhetoric. Experiences of something more than just ourselves and mundane life. Things like that moment of overwhelming coincidence that causes you to pause for a moment as time slows. Or feeling compelled to say something to a friend or a family member, something significant and helpful and loving, that you wouldn’t normally say and aren’t sure about but that you can’t stop from saying. Or sometimes we come to mass or prayer expecting one thing, and leaving transformed and refreshed by something we didn’t know we needed. Or hopefully all of us, every Sunday, approach the altar to receive the Eucharist and we are struck with a sense of receiving a mystery, a sense that what we do here is not ordinary and not routine.
These are the moments that we should listen for, and that we should bring to prayer and say, “Lord, was this you? Are you speaking to me in this?” Knowing God in our personal lives is not reserved to the few who are most holy and saintly. All of us are supposed to hear the voice of the Shepherd.
I don’t know how he plans to do that in each of your lives but I can tell you what helps. When a friend says our name from across a crowded room we hear them despite the noise. When a child cries out parents react instinctively. When the person we love reaches for our hand we hold tight to theirs. In all these things we have relationship, and from that relationship comes familiarity, and in that familiarity we hear and dialog and communicate, even without words. So to hear more clearly the voice of the Shepherd we can all work on becoming more familiar with the divine presence. As you grow that relationship by contemplating the scriptures and the life of Christ you will begin to hear it. Like I said, I don’t know what form it will take as God chooses to reveal His life to you, but I know that He will. Nothing has ever stopped God from the relationship He desires to have with His people, not even sin and death. He has only ever worked to remove the obstacles between us, including the obstacle we ourselves put down.
I want you to do two things this week. If you have heard the voice of the Shepherd at some point in your life and you know exactly what I have been talking about this whole time, then take time to remember it and to thank God for it. And then for all of us, with full awareness and consciousness, speak to the Shepherd who passed through death to hold us in his hand, speak to Christ who was crucified and is now risen, and ask with longing and desire to hear the voice of the Shepherd.
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Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.