[Jesus said:] 1“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. 2But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as [the shepherd] calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. 5But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” 6Although Jesus used this figure of speech, [the Pharisees] did not realize what he was trying to tell them.
7So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who came [before me] are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
“The sheep hear his [Shepherd’s] voice … follow him.” ~ Jesus in v. 3, 4
The people who first heard Jesus compare himself to a shepherd had some background knowledge that many of us lack. They knew that when shepherds brought their sheep in for the night, they often put them into pens with other flocks. And how did shepherds distinguish their sheep from all the others when it was time to go out to pasture again? Easy. Each shepherd had a distinctive call, which only his sheep could recognize and follow.
What a metaphor for Jesus’ relationship with us! He is the Good Shepherd, whose sheep know to respond when he calls to them.
Or do they? Perhaps this is an area where some of Jesus’ sheep – some of us – need a bit more training. Do you believe that you have the potential of becoming so familiar with Jesus that you can quickly discern his voice from other voices in the world? This gift of discernment, which is every believer’s inheritance in Christ, is developed as we imitate the first Christians, who “devoted themselves to the teachings of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to prayers.” (Acts 2:42).
Close attention to Scripture and church teaching can help us recognize God’s voice and the kind of things he might tell us. Fellowship with other followers of Christ can build us up and give us a sounding board to help us see if our ideas are on target. Personal prayer can become a conversation where we learn to hear the voice of him who loves us best. And the Eucharist can become an intimate encounter with the Lord, who wants to lead us into a deeper understanding of his will.
Isn’t it comforting that, despite our unworthiness, we can still have Jesus say, “I love you”? This is our Shepherd’s distinctive call. How can we possible resist?
Source: The Reflection is from Bro. Abel Navarro (you can visit his blog at http://myblogabelnavarro-abel.blogspot.com/).