FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
The readings from this reflection: Acts 13:14, 43-52; Ps 100:1-2, 3, 5; Rev 7:9, 14b-17; Jn 10:27-30
Years ago, there was an ad from a cell phone company named Verizon that boasted of its nation-wide cellular coverage. It had a man traveling to out of the way and odd places, from mountains to swamps and even popping out of manholes, and then placing a call to someone and saying that now famous catchphrase, “Can you hear me now? … Good.” The company wanted everyone to know that, through these series of ads, they had reliable, clear coverage everywhere.
In our Gospel reading for this Fourth Sunday of Easter, we hear Jesus saying, “My sheep hear my voice.” Jesus, our Good Shepherd, constantly calls out to each one of us to follow him, so that he can “guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” as we read in the second reading from the Book of Revelation.
How many of us, however, fail to hear or recognize Christ’s voice in our life? This failure stems, not from God being out of range and not being able to connect with us, but often times on our refusal to block out all the other competing voices and noises of this world.
First of all, if we look at and reflect on our daily routine, we start to see how much noise there is in our life. We wake up with an alarm, loudly announcing to us a new day. Then, we reach for our phone to see if anyone has contacted us or if we need to respond to anything. Some of us then turn on music or the news as we go about our morning routine. There is all this noise, and it has been barely five minutes since we have opened our eyes! Because of this, we don’t hear God’s voice above the noise.
Second, we start to recognize there are also many other voices that we listen to besides God’s. It’s not so much we don’t hear God’s voice, but that the other voices can sound so much more appealing to us. The voice of pleasure tells us to enjoy life, so we start to give in to our disordered desires instead of developing habits of virtue. The voice of laziness tells us to focus on our body more than our soul. The voice of relativism tells us that truth is subjective, so we should not impose our beliefs on others, but be tolerant and accepting of false ideas. The voice of pride tells us that we are always right, so we refuse to listen to others. We see a good example of this in our first reading when Paul and Barnabas tried preaching the word of God, but some of the Jews refused to accept their teaching out of jealousy.
To better hear the Shepherd’s voice then, we need to learn to cut out the unnecessary noises and contradicting voices out of our life. Instead of turning on music, the news, or checking our phones first thing in the morning, let us say a prayer thanking God for a new day and asking him what he wants us to do today. Let us be in constant dialogue with God throughout the whole day, by saying short phrases like “Lord Jesus, I love you,” or “Christ Jesus, my Savior and Redeemer,” before every activity we do, so that Christ can speak to us during those moments. Let us make time to daily read the Scriptures and other spiritual books so that our souls will not be led astray by the false teachings of our modern times. The voice of our Shepherd is loud and clear. There is not a place where Christ’s voice cannot be heard. He is constantly speaking to us and asking us, “Can you hear me now?” We pray during this Easter season that each one of us will learn how to better listen to God’s voice and respond like young Samuel, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” ©TM
A member of the Congregation of the Mother of the Redeemer in Carthage, MO, Fr. Tran is a canon lawyer and Coordinator of the Diocesan Tribunal.