A reading from the holy Gospel according to John 10:27-30
"Jesus said: My sheep hear my voice: I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father's hand. The Father and I are one." The Gospel of the Lord
+Let us Pray. Come Holy Spirit, Creator Blest and in my soul take up your rest, come with Thy grace and heavenly aid. Amen.
We have dear friends, who live not too far away, Mark and Mary who own sheep. Whenever I have the chance to visit them, I also love to visit their sheep, grazing in the pasture. Each sheep has a name. I love to watch them, some of the words that would rise to my heart when I think of them, are: alert, afraid, very curious, cautious, focused on food-and if you provide food, they lose all sense of boundaries, also, followers (one sheep can very quickly lead others in the opposite direction out of fear or skiddishness.) Lastly I would say, they have a tender side, they want to trust and come close to you, and some don't because fear seems to keep slowing them down, unless your pockets are full of corn! I love to watch them when my friend Mary walks out to join me, the sheep know her voice instantly, even her presence. I love to ponder that, as our voices (hers and mine) are very close in tone, yet they know her voice over mine.
When we look at this Gospel passage this Sunday, there is much for us to learn as disciples, the image of sheep can help us. Using the manner of Lectio Divina (Lectio-Read, Meditatio-Meditate-chew on the passage, Oratio-pray, talk to Jesus and listen, Contemplatio-allow His Love and His Light''IN'-that it may penetrate our soul). As we read this passage slowly, we must learn to LISTEN and hear our Lord's voice. Listen to what 'word' or 'image' rises in your mind and heart and remember, this post is not intended to be a reflection- it is simply a beginning place to stir your hearts- the real prayer begins when you sit with our Lord and slowly read this passage and listen to what He wants to talk with you about. "Hear" him out, He wants to love you and speak to your heart!
In this passage these words stayed with me, "My Sheep". What are the 'properties' of being one of the Lord's sheep-His sheep? The Lord says, "they hear my voice" and "they follow me." The picture above really reminds me of that. To be able to hear and to listen, I must first close my mouth and stop talking and open my ears and start listening. To follow means is to stop running and make sure I am following the right way -which is after Jesus. If I am not following Jesus, who am I following then? The picture above is worth pondering for those called to serve in Christian Leadership. The 'lead' must stop and listen, and in so doing, the lead will train the others, in the importance of listening. Listening for what? His voice. Why? to make sure we are following the right voice, the evil one comes disguised, his appearance and his voice are deceptive. We must hear and listen to Jesus' voice so that we learn it and can recognize Him anywhere! Like the sheep in Mary and Mark's pasture. To hear and to listen also implies the 'obedience' that follows and obedience is tough, but it is a witness! And 'witness' is a powerful means of discipleship. Our Lord listened to the Father and was obedient to the Father-and it cost Him. In what area, today in my life, is obedience costing me? What must I hear and listen to, and obey and follow in order to keep following Jesus?
A second place to maybe ponder, "no one can take them out of my hand," that sentence was said 2 times in the Gospel, the second time, regarding the Father. These are important word, they are spoken twice. Why are they repeated? Perhaps because its so human to panic and become so anxious and fearful all the time and so our Lord is trying to render our hearts peaceful in Him. Jesus is saying to us, that we are in His hands. Because in order to be 'not taken out', it implies we 'ARE IN' His hands. What a wonderful thought! To be in the hands of LOVE.
Last point; Let us ponder the Sheep and the Shepherd, their distinctive manners and traits and what they are about. Let us learn why our Lord chose sheep to describe us. Alot to learn from sheep!
Prayer: Almighty and ever living God, lead us to share in the joys of heaven, so that the humble flock may reach where the brave Shepherd has gone before, we ask this in your name Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen