Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino
Fourth Sunday of Easter: The Voice of the Lord
Know that He, the Lord, is God.
He made us, we belong to Him,
we are his people, the sheep of His flock.
From Psalm 100
We are His. In these words from Psalm 100 we pray in poetry the message of today’s Gospel, a message given to us by our Lord centuries after the psalm was written. We are His people, the sheep of His flock. The sheep hear the voice of their shepherd, and follow him. He protects them. We follow the Lord. He protects us.
There are many voices in the world calling us to follow. We have to listen carefully for the voices that are coming from the Lord and for the voices that are not the voice of our shepherd.
There is the voice that says, “You can do this or that now. Everyone is doing this. Join in. What makes you think that you are different?” Or, perhaps the voice says, “Times have changed. Get with the modern way.” This voice is tempting us to destruction, self destruction. If we follow it, we wander away from Christian morality in order to be part of the world. Soon, we realize that we have wandered away from our own happiness. That happens when we follow a voice that is not the voice of our Shepherd.
There is the voice that says, “In life, it is dog eat dog. This is the way of the world. You are either stepping on someone on your way up, or you are getting stepped on. You are either raising yourself up, or you are falling down.” This is quite obvious in the business world, but this voice is not limited to the business world. You hear this voice in wherever there are people seeking to gain some form of authority over others. This could be in the neighborhoods. You hear this voice in school. There are cliques in school where membership demands looking down at others and saying mean things about others in order to fit in. There are groups in the neighborhood association where people use others to rise to some form of authority, be it political or social.
There are voices within ourselves that tell us that we are not good enough. These are not the voice of the Lord. They are the voice of evil, telling us not to get up from mud we might fall into, but instead, stay there in the filth. Sometimes this voice is due to an addiction that raises its head when least expected. The girl or guy has done well avoiding porn, drugs, or alcohol and then he or she falls and falls hard. Something within says, “Give up.” But the voice of the Lord says, “No, we can beat this together. Don’t give up. Get up.”
There is one voice that we need to listen to. That is the voice of the Lord. This is the voice within us that says as Paul put it so beautifully in Philippians 4:13: “I can conquer all things in Him who empowers me.” This is the voice that tells us that we are not too weak to live the Christian life. It is the voice that tells us to trust in our Lord. It is the voice that tells us that Christ is calling us to new adventures in holiness, to new heights, to a new relationship with Him.
A few years ago a contemporary Christian Group out of Australia called Hillsong United published a meditation on the voice of the Lord. The song was based on the voice of the Lord calling Peter out of the boat of comfort and into abandonment to the Lord. Let me read you two of its potent lyrics.
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine. © CCLI License #2368115
I am Yours and You are mine. We are His. How can anything in the world surpass that? We belong to God, and He belongs to us. That is the joy of the Gospel.
There are predators out there, trying to lure us, His sheep. We know their voices and we know where they are trying to take us. We also know the voice of God. And we know where He wants to take us. We pray today for the courage to follow our shepherd.