In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” Most of us, like myself, haven’t been around sheep very much. Perhaps we’ve seen them at a petting zoo or a farm, but, we certainly aren’t as familiar with them as people were in Jesus’ days. Trying to understand the nature of sheep, I came across an online video that amazed me. In the video, a shepherd on a large farm was having fun with visitors. He invited each one to call out to the sheep in the pasture to have them return to the sheepfold. Each attempt produced the same result, the sheep simply ignored them. Then, the shepherd steps in and calls out to the band of sheep. At the first call, the sheep stop and perk up to listen. At the second call, the entire band, which looked like hundreds of sheep, begin their return to the sheepfold. The sheep only responded to the call of their shepherd. They knew his voice and ignored all others.
Once I saw this video, it brought the Gospel message to life. Jesus wants us to be like these sheep. The sheep knew the true voice of their shepherd. They weren’t easily fooled by other voices trying to call them. They were smart enough to ignore those calls and to only follow the voice they knew; the voice that led them to safety each night, the voice that led them to water and food, the voice that guided them and cared for them. The sheep totally trusted in the shepherd and the shepherd, in turn, knew each of his sheep. Because of this, they followed only his voice.
Today, there are many voices shouting for our attention. Jesus tells us that it is important to be active listeners, a simple yet challenging task for all of us as we try to live out our discipleship in a world where social media and other platforms compete for our attention. We need to take the time to listen to God, to the voice of the Holy Mother Church and to trust in her voice, follow her teachings, and ignore all others that attempt to lead us astray.