Source: Neo Jeremiah Voice of the Young Prophet Newsletter (April 17, 2016 issue)
The words in today’s gospel are pronounced by Jesus on the Feast of the Dedication, the time of the year when the Jews “celebrate the Maccabees’ re-dedication of the altar and reconsecration of the temple in 164 B.C., after their desecration by Antiochus IV Epiphanes” (NABRE commentary). To me, the timing is significant for I believe that all creation, desecrated by man’s sin, will be restored to God. Specific to his followers, Jesus said in verse 29 of the gospel, “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take then out of the Father’s hand.” No one can take us out of the hand of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who is one with the Father as he follows the Father’s perfect will!.
Jesus, at that time, had a group of Jews gathered around Him. And they were told that they do not believe, because they are not among His sheep. Their hearts are closed; nothing they hears and saw of Jesus’ words and works test convinces them that he is the Messiah.
My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they know me (verse 27). As a Christian, I believe in Jesus. I profess this belief every time I recite the Apostle’s Creed in mass. But do I truly listen to His voice and follow Him?
When I was a child, I thought that as long as I know and follow the Ten Commandments and be a “good kid”, then I am already a true Christian. Growing in faith, I have come to realize that those are not enough. It is necessary that, by God’s grace, I grow in knowledge and love of who I am following — by studying and reflecting on Scriptures, receiving Him (the host) in the Holy Mass, speaking to Him in prayer. Ours is a living God, who walks with us, speaks with us, heals us. He did so in the flesh and continues to be present in our midst through the Holy Spirit! His message extends beyond the Holy Bible for He speaks in our lives. We ought to listen and discern what His will is for us.
I watched a video on YouTube of an attempt to test whether sheep would truly listen only to its master’s voice. There were four test objects — the firs three were farm visitors. The three called out to the flock while they were grazing in the field. None of them bothered to look up. But when it was their master’s turn to call, one of them immediately looked up, followed y another, and another. He continued calling until all of them noticed and began walking towards him. It struck me how it took time for some of the sheep to look up. And once they looked up, they just stared out as if processing the message of the shepherd still. Seeing the others approach their master prompted some of them to start walking, too. It is a sight to behold to see them finally walking as a flock to their shepherd. Perhaps, i am just like the “slow ones”. I am still straining to hear Jesus’ voice. It might be that he has spoken clearly and my hear isn’t open enough to receive it. By His grace, I have faith that I will get there. After all, the Good Shepherd now has my hand in His.