The Gospel for this week is a short one, but there is much there for meditation and reflection~the image of Our Lord as the Good Shepherd and the sheep that know and hear His voice.
When I taught 7th and 8th graders some years ago, I would often say to them: "I know you heard me, but are you listening?" I still hold that there is a marked difference between hearing and listening.
Looking back on my own life, I think that there were and maybe still are, times when I behave very much like my students. I hear God, but I am not listening very closely to what He is saying. Or perhaps even worse, I can be like the spoiled brat who sticks her fingers in her ears refusing to listen because I just don't want to hear what my Father has to say.
Now I will admit since my return to the Good Shepherd, I have more interest in what it is He wants to say to me and I do strive to hear and listen to His voice most of the time.
Today's Gospel tells us that the sheep hear His voice and follow, and that the Good Shepherd gives His sheep eternal life which no one can take from them. Even when I try to take myself away from this gift, it is still offered. I can continue to refuse it, and heaven knows I tried for many years, but by virtue of my Baptism and Our Lord's Death and Resurrection, that gift of eternal life is mine if I accept it.
In Baptism we are grafted into Christ; this is what enables us to always be able to hear Him, and it is also what gives us the freedom to follow Him.
This rebel sheep has taken her fingers out of her ears. I much prefer the sound of the Good Shepherd's voice to the cacophony of others in this world.
Today is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. There are many who may be hearing the Good Shepherd's voice calling them to serve Him in the priesthood and religious life. Let us pray that they will truly listen and answer that call as Our Lord wishes.