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Sunday, 22 April 2018

Can You Identify the Shepherd’s Voice?


Fourth Sunday of Easter 
(Good Shepherd Sunday)
22 April 2018


First reading                                                                       Acts 4:8-12

Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead.

This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”
Second reading                                                        1 John 3:1-2

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.

Gospel                                                                     John 10:11-18

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away-and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.

I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

BIBLE

Reflection
By Gary Tulabut

I have never been a shepherd, literally. In fact, I have not seen a sheep or a herd of sheep closer than probably 100 meters. Of course, being close to lamb chops on a buffet table does not count. So, I really do not know the characteristics of sheep and why Christ compared us to them.

The animals I am familiar with are ducks (because I used to tend our 100 plus ducks when I was a kid), carabao (because we used to have one to help my father in farming), chickens (we also had them in the farm), pigeons (my late uncle raised them), pigs (we used to raise one or two for a year in preparation for big events such as fiestas), cats, and, of course, dogs. 

All these animals, when domesticated or raised in farms are tamed once they get familiarized with whoever is handling or raising them. That is when they can identify the smell, the looks, sometimes the tools (like a basin or pale when I feed those ducks), and especially the voice of their masters. Well, I sometimes doubt that with cats except when they’re hungry. 

When my ducks see me holding a pale of darak (rice bran), they start following me. A simple “kruk-tik-tik-tik” sound gets the chicken excited and they knew food was coming. And dogs, we know how excited they can be when their best friend arrives. But by experience, I believe dogs’s senses of sight and hearing are better than their sense of smell. Because when  I come home, my dog barked until either I called its name or I showed up.

Christ compared us to sheep. According to a priest’s homily I heard long ago, the sheep is a dumb animal. But even as dumb as it is, just like the other animals I talked about, it can identify its shepherd’s voice. 

“I know mine and mine know me” says the Lord in today's Gospel. How do we know it is the voice of the Good Shepherd that is calling us? How do we know it is not the voice of the world? Much worse, the voice of the evil one?

Whenever we can identify a temptation as a temptation, we should know that we have not yet fallen astray because another voice is calling. That is a good thing because we are still familiar with the voice of our Shepherd. But when we cannot identify a temptation as a temptation anymore, maybe because it is done by everyone else, for example, then we forgot the voice of the Shepherd.

We need to be familiar with His voice. He has given us the tools to do so. Start with reading the Bible. Read more Catholic materials. Attend Catholic events and seminars. Frequently go to Mass, not only on Sundays. Receive applicable sacraments. Go to retreats. Be a member of a fellowship communities such as Couples for Christ, Singles for Christ, Light of Jesus and the like. These groups will lead us back to the flock whenever we are about to get lost.

At least, unlike the sheep, we can do something to make sure we do not forget the voice of the Good Shepherd.

Prayer


Lord, You died for us while we are still as stubborn as sheep. You gave Your life for us, Your sheep to bring us back to Your herd. Lead us to things that will make us know You more and be familiar with Your voice. And may everything we do glorify You. Amen.

Followers

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