John 10:1-10 Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.”
Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Reflection Do you remember this Easter morning story? Early in the morning on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene remained alone at Jesus’ empty tomb crying? At first she didn’t recognize him, but when he called her by name in the depths of her heart Mary recognized Jesus’ voice? (John 20.1, 14-16) I believe this story points beyond the physical hearing of voices on the outside to the deep interior place where we “hear and know” what is right and good and true.
Or the much loved story of two disciples leaving Jerusalem recounting the torture and death of their friend Jesus, when the risen Christ appeared to them as they remembered the words of holy scripture and how Jesus took bread and blessed, broke and gave it to them? “Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road.”( Luke 24.13-25)
In John’s text we listen to Jesus’ parable, “… the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.”
Is it too bold to assume that every one of us has had the experience of something stirring inside us, our hearts burning or perhaps a still, small voice, “Don’t do that?” Or a nagging inner sense, “I really need to call Harold.” Or maybe you caught yourself saying, “Something told me….” or “I knew better,” or that just felt right or wrong, or I knew he was telling the truth or I knew she was lying.
Jesus invites the disciples and us to pay attention to the voice we recognize within ourselves, the voice of the Good Shepherd who knows us deeply and intimately, the still small voice within that leads us out of temptation and “guides us along right pathways.” Jesus encourages us to rely on the voice of the Good Shepherd within to comfort us in our dark times and guide us when faced with evil.
Unlike rulers, leaders and teachers who steal and kill, manipulate and destroy for their own gain, the interior voice of the Good Shepherd may be trusted to guide and direct us toward life in abundance.
If you are wondering what you can do to better hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, consider trying a practice of silence and deep listening, centering prayer, Christian meditation or walking silently alone on the desert. Even ten minutes every day will tune your inner 'hearing.' Join us for Centering Prayer Wednesdays as 2pm.
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