Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice…” Is anybody listening? Can we hear if we are not paying attention? The Lord still has much to say. His words can be our salvation.
We all understand on an intellectual level. That’s why we are here. We’ve come to listen—to be fed with God’s word and nourished with the Eucharist. Whether we are willing to admit or not, we are surrounded with distractions—even in Church. Cell phones ring because we forget to turn them off or because we refuse to disconnect ourselves for one hour. The bombardment of thoughts can be uncontrollable. “I was distracted at Mass.”—a common weakness that folks bring to Confession. Little wonder when we are reading the bulletin during the homily or counting the lights on the ceiling or engaged in conversation. Certain discipline is required when we come through the doors of the church. Learning how to focus—how to listen takes practice. Sort of like being a in a room full of people with everyone talking and we are trying to listen to one person. That’s how our mind works—lots of thoughts—lots of voices and we are called to listen to Jesus in the middle of all the distraction. Naturally we come with our own agenda—the petitions, the worries, concerns about the future. Yet, if we are doing the talking we cannot listen. That’s the way God made us: if your ears are opened our mouth is closed; if your mouth is opened our ears are closed. In a shouting match nobody is listening—rarely does anything get accomplished—just maybe a sore throat. In a world filled with noise, listening is becoming a lost art.
Everybody’s in a hurry. Takes time to sit and listen to someone. Families show the symptoms of the lack of communication. We all know what we are supposed to do, but we are too busy, too tired, or just not interested. Husbands, wives, children—who’s got time to just sit and listen to the same old stories? Who wants an ear-full of moral warnings, which we’ve already heard? Perhaps parents need lessons in what subjects to discuss and which to avoid. Too bad that children don’t come with instructions. Psychologists, psychiatrists and councilors make a living doing what doesn’t get done in the home. At times there are medical issues that require medical attention. However, a vast majority of people is starving for someone to listen to them.
God on the other hand is always willing to listen. Fact is that God does more listening than talking because we never allow Him to get a word in—and He certainly does not want to interrupt us. Yet, in spite of our small ears and big mouth we are loved more than we can imagine. Jesus compared us to sheep—which on the surface level is insulting—but taken to a deeper understanding—is quite endearing. Sheep need constant attention—that’s us all right. We are liable to walk into danger. We tend to find strength in the group, even with the group wrong. Therefore, we are nothing without the Shepherd. Our existence depends on the Shepherd. We must listen to His voice or we will be lost. Maybe some of us can give testimony of times in our life when we have not listened. Obviously, we’ve have returned. And we are trying now—that’s what matters. Like little distracted children who are crying or laughing or yelling—sometimes we have to hold their face so they can concentrate on what we are trying to say—Jesus does the same with us. He holds our face—never by force—just long enough to get our attention. Jesus wants to talk to us. The message is always the same. The Lord doesn’t want to scold us—to rub the past in our face or tell us what bad children we’ve been. Jesus wants to tell us how much we are loved.
Concentrate—pay attention—listen to the voice of freedom. The Shepherd loves us forever.