A devout and beautiful young parishioner told me that he would not be at Mass because he was helping the local fire department with their chicken barbeque for their summer festival. He said that he would get my homily from the Sonshine. So here are some thoughts about the “Good Shepherd.”
Jesus tells us that he is the “Good Shepherd” and that his sheep will recognize his voice among all other voices. In sharing this metaphor, he is drawing upon a practice that was common among shepherds at the time. At night, for protection and companionship, shepherds would put their flocks together into a common enclosure. They would then separate the sheep in the morning by using their voices. Each shepherd had trained his sheep to be attuned to his voice and his voice only. The shepherd would walk away from the enclosure calling his sheep, often times by their individual names, and they would follow him.
Ask yourself, how do you discern the unique cadence of God’s voice? Which is the voice of the Good Shepherd that you follow?
- The voice of God is the one that most challenges and stretches us, I get a call to go to a college where an employee’s daughter has died of a drug overdose. When I chat with his co-workers, they share that when tragedy strikes, they find peace in the woods or by a stream that speaks to them that God is near and cares about them.
- The voice of God is recognized when another co-worker shares his fears that his son hooked on cocaine will overdose. He promises to be that voice to offer compassion to that father who most likely is blaming himself for his daughter’s death.
- The voice of God is recognized whenever one sees life, tragedy with a sense of humor. Another co-worker shares that he doesn’t practice any religion but his co-worker is a lapsed Catholic. I share that church is about people who welcome one another with open arms despite our imperfections. The young man asked me where do I find this church?
- The voice of God is recognized wherever one sees dying, suffering and poverty, and we are called to bring comfort, support and generosity.
- The voice of God is recognized in what calls us to what’s higher, sets us apart, and invites us to holiness, whether we are building playgrounds for the next generation or opening our doors to the dying with a hospice program or bringing food to the hungry.
- The voice of God is always heard wherever there is genuine enjoyment and gratitude, even as it asks us to deny ourselves, die to ourselves, and surrender all our selfish attitudes and behaviors.
Lord, I pray for all my Sonshine Friends and those who missed Mass this Sunday because they were barbequing chickens for their neighbors to know that God is calling you to come near to Him and never be afraid for He loves you with an everlasting love.