“My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
Once upon a time, I was taking a walk along my street and I noticed a herd of cattle being led by some herdsmen approaching. The cows had taken over the entire street. I looked around and could not find any grass around nor any busy area and I kept wondering why these cows in their large numbers were out in such a busy street.
As they cows were getting closer, I became even more alert, for fear that the cows might get too close to me and the fact that herdsmen could be armed. As the cows passed by where I was, I noticed something strange that left me dumbfounded. One of the herders was literally talking to the cows and as he spoke, the cow in question nodded its head and moved in the very direction the herder ordered. I was amazed. Looking at the cow, it didn’t look like “meat” to me anymore. It seemed human.
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus says: “My sheep hears my voice and they follow me … they shall never perish, no one can snatch them out of my hand.” If a cow can understand the language of its herder and obey his voice, I wonder why it is so difficult for us full blooded humans to listen to the voice of our shepherd, Jesus, and obey His voice. I wonder why we often consider the instructions of Jesus as burdensome.
The truth is contained in Jesus’ statement: “My sheep hears my voice and they follow me.” It is not everyone who goes to Church that is a sheep of Jesus. The sheep of Jesus are only those who have developed a close relationship with Jesus; those who hear His Voice; those who follow Him without giving excuses. There are many today who call themselves Christians but are not part of the sheepfold of Christ.
After that experience that day, I began to understand why herdsmen do not eat cow meat. I noticed the close connection (friendship) between the herdsmen and the cows; each herder knew his cows. Do you have such a relationship with Jesus?
If we are truly the sheep of Christ, we would be excited whenever we are called to join in prayers or whenever we open our Bibles to read because these are opportunities to hear the voice of our shepherd. Just as we long to hear the voice of one with whom we are in love so we shall long to hear the voice of Christ. If we are truly the sheep of Christ, our role models would not be rich and famous celebrities whose moral lives are nothing to write home about.
Our first reading today states that it was at Antioch (a gentile community) that the disciples were first called Christians. This is a fact we must never forget: that before we got the title “Christian” we are simply “disciples”. The word ‘Christian’ today has come to mean “one who attends church” instead of its original meaning as “one who is a disciple, that is, a follower of Christ.”
Truth be told, many of us are not following Christ but we follow those we consider to be “men of God” and are more loyal to them than to Christ. We are more scared of offending the “man of God” than of offending Jesus Christ.
If we are truly followers of Jesus Christ, then we need not live in fear because as Jesus said: “My sheep hears my voice and they follow me … they shall never perish, no one can snatch them out of my hand.” We can never perish and no one can snatch us out of Jesus’ hands.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, open my ears to hear your voice and strengthen my will to follow your steps as your sheep. Amen.
Bible Study: Acts 11:19-26, Psalm 87 and John 10:22-30