Study: When have I heard the Lord calling me? How have I responded?
Pray: Take time to ask Jesus for guidance and strength.
Serve: How can I support someone who is searching for meaning, purpose, and answers in life?
4th Sunday of Easter Readings Fr. Andrew’s Homily Podcast
During my travels in Israel, I had the opportunity to visit with some of the Palestinian people who raised sheep in the rocky countryside. On one of my trips I met a young boy named Ali who was twelve years old. He was very shy until I asked him if he would show me his sheep. With a huge smile he took me by the hand and led me out into a small enclosure.
As we approached the sheep Ali began to call them by name – “Ahmed, Azim, Abram” – and so on. When the animals heard their names, they came one by one to be fed with some grain Ali had brought. I marveled at how the sheep trusted this little boy, for without fear or worry they came immediately at the sound of his voice.
After a few minutes I asked if I could feed the sheep. Ali gave me a grin and said, “You can try.” He handed me some grain and I tried calling the sheep.
“Azim! Here Azim!” I kept calling the sheep but they merely looked at me and moved away. When I realized that the sheep would not come to me I looked at Ali. His chest swelled with pride and he said, “They only come to me, because they know me!”
A shepherd’s life is not easy. The sheep must be constantly guarded from wild animals that prey upon them. Shepherds endure long, lonely hours exposed to the cold and the elements, ensuring that the sheep will always be under constant care. Because they are together so much, the shepherd knows each sheep, and they respond when called.
In the Gospel today the Lord tells us that he our shepherd and gate. The image reminds us that we too are cared for and loved by one who is always near, always listening to our needs and seeking our protection. Our Lord not only loves us, but knows us intimately – better than we know ourselves.
Yet just as the Ali’s sheep made the choice to listen to the shepherd and not to a stranger, so we too make choices in our response to the many voices in our world. We know that their are many elements in our world that if we heed would only lead to temptation and sin.
The Shepherd invites us each day to follow his call. Let us hear his words and respond, thus being guided by the one who knows us out of love.