4th Sunday of Easter Year A – 17
Acts 2:14, 36-41/ 1 Peter 2:20-25/ John 10:1-10
This world is full of sights and sounds. For us who could see and hear, we would use our discretion to see what we want to see and to hear what we want to hear. That is called selective seeing and selective hearing.
But for those who are blind and deaf, they don’t have this option for selection. Simply because they can’t see and they can’t hear. Between blindness and deafness, it is difficult to say which is more inconvenient.
Maybe the chances of overcoming the difficulties of deafness are higher because of the availability of good hearing aids. There is this story of an elderly gentleman who had serious hearing problems for a number of years.
Finally, he went to a doctor who fitted him with a set of hearing aids that allowed him to hear quite well. After about two months, he went back to the doctor for a follow-up and the doctor said, “Your hearing is good. Your family must be pleased that you can hear again.”
The elderly gentleman replied, “Oh I haven’t told my family yet. I just sit around and listen to the conversations. And there is something else that they don’t know. And that is I have changed my will three times already.”
This reminds us of the basic principle in life: Be careful what you say, because you don’t know who is listening. Maybe because we think that others are a bit deaf and that they are not listening to us.
Well, another elderly man was wondering if his wife had a hearing problem. So, one day he stood a short distance behind her as she was sitting on the sofa, and he said, “Can you hear me?” There seemed to be no response from her.
He moved closer and said, “Can you hear me?” Still there seemed to be no response. Finally, he moved right behind her and said, “Can you hear me?” And she replied, “For the third time, Yes!”
It goes to show that some have ears that can hear, some have ears that can’t hear, and then some have ears that hear only what they want to hear. In the gospel, Jesus told the famous parable of the Good Shepherd.
The good shepherd calls out to his sheep, and he calls them one by one, and the sheep hears his voice, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.
But Jesus also said that the sheep never follow a stranger but run away from him because they do not recognize the voice of strangers. So, what is the difference between the voice of the shepherd and the voice of the stranger?
Certainly, it is more than just the tone or the familiarity. Because the voice of the shepherd speaks the truth with love, it is the voice that cares, it is the voice that has compassion. In the 1st reading, when Peter stood up with the Eleven, he addressed the crowd in a loud voice.
He said, “The whole house of Israel can be certain that God has made this Jesus who you crucified both Lord and Christ.” That wasn’t very impressive nor eloquent. In fact, it was rather blunt. But when the people heard it, they were cut to the heart.
What the people heard was more than the voice of Peter. They heard the voice of the Good Shepherd, they heard the voice of truth, the voice of love, the voice of salvation.
We surely are fortunate to belong to the sheepfold of Christ—His Church. We surely are blessed to have the Son of God as our Shepherd, who came among us in order to lead us to heaven. Do we fully appreciate our privileged position?
Do we always live up to our heavenly vocation? We know His voice, we know what He asks of us, but do we always listen to that voice, do we always do what He asks of us?
There are many among us today who foolishly think they need no shepherd. They think they know all the facts of life while they are in total ignorance of the most basic fact of all, namely, the very purpose of life.
Not that the thought of it does not arise disturbingly before their minds time and time again. But they try to smother that thought and ease their consciences by immersing themselves deeper and deeper in the affairs and the passing pleasures of this temporary life.
Alas for them, a day of reckoning lies ahead, a day that is much nearer than they would like to believe. What will be their fate when they meet Christ the Judge, whom they had refused to follow and acknowledge during their days on earth?
This is a misfortune that could happen to any one of us, unless we think often of our purpose and our end in life. We have a few short years, but short though they be, we can earn for ourselves an eternity of happiness during this life.
Let the straying sheep boast of their false freedom and of the passing joys they may get in this life—this freedom and these joys are mixed with much sorrow, and will end very soon.
We know that if we follow the shepherd of our souls, we are on the way to the true life, the perfect life, the unending life which will have no admixture of sorrow, regret or pain. Where Christ is, there perfect happiness is, and there with God’s grace we hope and trust to be.
Yes, the voice of the Good Shepherd can be heard everywhere, from mothers, from teachers, from young poor students. It is a voice that speaks of truth and of love, a voice that cares and has compassion, a voice that gives life and life to the full.
Let us listen to this voice, and may the voice of the Good Shepherd fill our hearts, so that we too will be the voice of the Good Shepherd for others.