Today’s reflection is for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, May 3, 2020, and the readings for today can be found by clicking here.
Last week we learned that through the Scriptures our heart burns within us, and in the Eucharist our hunger is satisfied—in both we encounter Jesus Christ, who today, is revealed as the Good Shepherd, who calls us by name. We hear his voice and are called to follow him.
I grew up on a dairy with my avo, on S. Mitchell road, but on Linwood, my avo had 40 acres with first-calf heifers. Each day my avo would drive the big, rusty silage truck up Mitchell to Linwood to feed his cows silage. He would roll the window down and make a “cow call” sound by pursing his lips together and then mooing like a cow. I remember with great joy and astonishment, how the cows would hear his voice, look up, and come running across the 40 acres! It was crazy. They would leap and kick and run to the manger to be fed. He gave them everything they needed.
I think that’s what Jesus was talking about in today’s Gospel when he says that he is the Good Shepherd, his sheep hear his voice, they recognize his voice and they follow him. I think it’s really cool how Jesus just calls our name, provides for us–just like a good shepherd—and he walks out ahead of us, and we follow him…don’t we? Do we though?
The Catechism teaches that, “The seed and beginning of the Kingdom are the ‘little flock’ of those whom Jesus came to gather around him, the flock whose shepherd he is.” It says that we, “form Jesus’ true family,” and, “To those whom he gathered around him, he taught a new ‘way of acting.’” (764) What do you think that “new way of acting” looks like, and are we doing it?
Every time I listen to 102 FM, John Tesh is giving me all kinds of reasons to do certain things and to live a certain way for my health and well-being. He calls it “Intelligence for your life.” And I think that’s good. Sometimes he has some good advice. But John Tesh is not my shepherd, and neither is my next-door neighbor, or my coworker. Jesus is, and I’m afraid that many Catholics are quicker to listen to John Tesh, or Oprah, or Delilah, or this expert or that expert, and any other host of people encouraging a particular way of acting, instead of Jesus, our pastors, and bishops. It is Jesus, through his ministers, who teaches us this new way of acting. We need to be very careful, because the world’s agenda is not always that of the Good Shepherd, and it is he and he alone that we must follow.
It reminds me of a time I drove my avo’s truck over to Linwood. I was irrigating, and as I approached the field, I pulled over to the side of the road, rolled the window down, pursed my lips, and as best I could, I mooed exactly like my avo had done. The cows looked up, stared for a moment, and went back to what they were doing. I tried again and again, but they never budged. The truth is, I wasn’t their shepherd. They didn’t recognize my voice, the voice of a stranger. They heard and responded to but one voice, the voice of the shepherd, and so should we.
I never forgot that day, and every time I hear this reading I think with fondness of my Avo who loved his cows so much, and who cared for them—and they followed only him. Jesus is our Shepherd, and nothing and no one should ever take his place. Jesus tells us that his sheep will not listen to the voice of strangers, but I’m afraid too often I do. Jesus tells me to love others and I find lots of excuses not to. He tells me to love God, and I busy myself with things of the world. Jesus alone gives us instruction in his word, he feeds us in the Eucharist, and gives us life in abundance. I know I’ve got work to do. I need to hear his voice and follow him.
As the Psalmist says, he gives me rest, he refreshes my soul, he guides me in the right path, he’s always by my side. He anoints my head with oil; my cup overflows. Goodness and kindness follow me; there is nothing I shall want. Amen?
Eternal rest, grant unto Avo Ezekiel Ventura Pereira, and let your perpetual light shine upon him, may he rest in peace, Amen. May his soul, and all the souls of the faithfully departed in the mercy of God rest in peace, Amen.