Once upon a time, a rather inebriated ice fisherman drills a hole in the ice. He peers into the hole and a loud voice says, “There are no fishdown there.” He walks several yards away and drills another hole. He peers into the hole and again the voice says, “There’s no fish down there.” He then walks about 50 yards away and drills another hole. Again the voice says, “There’s no fish down there. He looks up into the sky and asks, “God, is that you?” “No, you idiot,” the voice says, “It’s the ice rink manager.”
Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice.” What does the voice of God sound like?
In the Middle East, the shepherd spends a lot of time with the lambs. The purpose is to familiarize the animal with the shepherd’s voice. Even if the flock mixes with another flock at night in the sheep pen, in the morning when the shepherd comes to call the sheep, they know his voice; they hear his call; his voice resonates within the ears of the sheep. They follow their shepherd. It is almost as if the shepherd and the sheep are one.
What things prevent us from listen acoustically to the voice of our shepherd? What deadens the resonating voice of the Lord is jealousy among his disciples. Paul and Barnabas are powerful preachers in the synagogues. One day the whole city comes out to hear them preach the Gospel. And when the skeptics see this, they are filled with jealousy…they are filled with sharp pangs of resentment. And instead of listening acoustically to the voice of the shepherd through Paul and Barnabas, they listen more to their suspicion, to their own evil desires, and they respond by hurling violent abuse at them. Their thinking is “groupthink”: God’s order is my order. God wants what we want; God desires what we desire: this lack of listening acoustically to the voice of the shepherd has serious consequences for our souls.
Today, what does the voice of God sound like?
The voice of God is the voice of Jesus. The voice of Jesus is found in the Body of Christ. That divine voice is heard in Anthony Borges, Kendrick Castillo, and Riley Howell. All three died as they shielded their classmates from gun assailants who walked into their schools to murder people. That divine voice is heard in Stephanie Land, a single mother. Passionate about her life, she writes a book entitled, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive. Her “passion is giving a voice to the working poor in America,” especially women who are the majority of “domestic workers.”
Jesus tells us today, “My sheep listen acoustically to my voice.” It is the voice of the Good Shepherd who calls us to protect the defenseless lambs in our community. There is no one social issue greater than another: whether it be guns, poverty, abortion, or racism, The Lord remains our Shepherd and we are his flock called to care for one another. It is the whole meaning of the reception of Holy Communion.
4thSunday of Easter