This week we hear about a voice that is truer and sweeter, more powerful and strong, steadier than any other voice – the voice of the Good Shepherd – the voice of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He is the Good Shepherd.  Our shepherd into eternity!  From our very birth He begins to call to us.  It is an innate part of our DNA – that part of us that is made in the image of God – that has us from the very beginning having a yearning, a desire to seek out and find the goodness of our Lord. In our Baptism, He comes to us and claims us as one of His flock.  From that moment on – as the song says – “we belong to you O Lord of our longing, we belong to you.  In our daily living, dying and rising, we belong to you.”  Throughout scripture we hear His call to us starting when He says to Simon and Andrew, “Come after me.”  And when we stray, get lost, and find ourselves in the darkest of places, He says “Listen to my voice.”  Even when we find ourselves wallowing in the throes of sin and death, His voice is there as it was when He cried out “Lazurus, come out!”  We hear in our Responsorial Psalm today that He guides us through right paths, He walks by our side in the dark valleys, He stands with us before our foes, He feeds us and anoints us.  And on the cross —- on the cross, He gives His very life for us that we might live.  He is our Good Shepherd!  He knows us and loves us and tends to our every need.  “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want” – if only I listen to His voice and follow where He leads me.

During times of fear, uncertainty upheaval, and struggle it can become harder to hear His voice.  But it is His voice that cuts through the darkness when we listen closely.  Through prayer and a focus on His voice, Jesus will lead us through these times if only we let him.  Do we listen intently for the voice of the Lord?  Only in prayer, discernment and openness of heart can we hear the truth of His voice above the thoughts and sounds of our own desires; and the doubts and fears we are confronted with daily.  Do we truly look for His guidance in the decisions we make daily for ourselves and others?  In the reading of the scriptures, we hear the sweet sound of His truth and our redemption.  He calls out to us through the scriptures that we might know His voice.  Through the scriptures he forms our conscience, our understanding of right from wrong.  Through our clergy He gives us people to bring understanding to what He is saying.  This is particularly true for our Pastors – Pastor is a Latin word that means shepherd.   For they are the loving caretakers of His flock here on earth.  And we hear His voice most clearly through the celebration of the Liturgy – the celebration of the Eucharist.  Here He comes to us in full voice, enveloping us in His love, feeding us His very body and blood that we might live.   He found a way to be with us always, to walk with us, to feed us, to love us.  He defeats the thieves and robbers, the strangers and the grip of death that all try to claim us.  He gives us hope.  He gives us love.  He gives us eternal life.

As Vincentians, patience, compassion and trust in God must be our steadying influences.  As Jesus walks with us, we are called to walk with others listening to their stories and offering them the calm and the hope of our Lord Jesus.  And we only can hear that when we listen intently, wait patiently and walk humbly.  Do we truly look for His guidance in the decisions we make daily for ourselves and our neighbors in need?  Someone asked me once, do we help many with a little or a few with a lot?  My answer is both.  For each situation is unique and our path can’t be determined by a formula, our judgements, or even ‘worthiness’ of the neighbor.  We must be guided by one thing and one thing only – the wisdom and heart of our Lord.

Lord Jesus, open my ears that I may hear your will for me in all decisions I make.  Give me the courage to hear and share the truth of your words.  Allow me to submit humbly to all you call me to and all you ask of me.  Allow me to take the time to seek your wisdom, listening constantly that I may not go astray. Give me the grace to spread your calm and your hope to all I encounter.   Make my heart burn with the desire to do your will always.  We pray all of this in your name.  Amen

Deacon Mike