Dear Followers of the Risen Christ,
Our Easter season continues on this Fourth Sunday of Easter. This Sunday is traditionally called, “Good Shepherd Sunday.” This comforting image of the Risen Christ goes well beyond the Shepherd as leader. This image is further reaching than just our vocations in the Church.
In today’s gospel, John 10:27-36, Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them and they follow me…” This intimate notion of hearing Jesus’ voice is key to our entire spiritual life. Through our baptism we are given the gift of knowing Jesus and being in an intimate relationship with him for our entire lives. If we are attentive, prayerfully silent, reflective and willing, we will still hear the voice of the Master. We will still prevail in our own discipleship. We will still give our hearts over to the one who has re-created us. We will still be drawn to the voice of Jesus when we are lost, lonely or feel forgotten.
Our connection to the Risen Christ is one of intimacy. This healing relationship is for every Christian, not just for leaders, priests and professed religious. This union of souls with Christ is the foundation of our lives, and the hope for our Church. In our daily prayer, we need to not only speak our needs, but we also need time, space and emptiness to listen to Jesus.
We are called and challenged to hear Christ within the scriptures. Christ longs to be in union with our souls. His story is our story. His story of love, tenderness and hope through his passion, death and resurrection is played out in our stories of spiritual growth and maturity. We do not just listen to God’s Word at Mass on Sunday and think those words remain stuck in the past or printed in a dusty old book and then walk away. The Word of God, especially the gospel, is a river of grace that is offered to our souls every week. It is a place of refreshment and renewal.
We listen to God in our daily prayer, in our common worship and in the events of our daily lives. The Easter season reminds us that we continually belong to Christ. We are seekers of his voice and we proclaim his presence when we finally understand that he is our Shepherd and Keeper. Our ears are naturally attentive to hearing God, far beyond the noise of our daily lives and the whispers of insecurity, doubt and failure that we possess within our hearts. We ache to listen to the Good Shepherd who bends down to listen to and speak to his people.
I believe with my entire being that God cares about each of us. This care, his Shepherding, is ongoing no matter where we find pain, anguish and loneliness. His care is before us if we can truly listen to his voice, be transformed by his forgiveness and be willing to follow him with love and understanding.
Blessings in this Easter Season,