The WORD in other words (2022) by Sr Eden Panganiban SSpS – Manila
Tuesday 4th Week of Easter
What could be more reassuring than this? That our eternal life is guaranteed and that no one of us will ever perish! No tragedy, no trials could ever overcome us. We are sheep within the sheepfold of the Good Shepherd. “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me….My Father has given them to me.”
Although most Filipinos are more familiar with other domestic animals than the sheep, as with goats, cattle, poultry, horses, dogs, etc., we are informed that sheep are best characterized as usually quiet and obedient. They stick to their herd and do not usually give their shepherds a lot of problems. And yes, they tend to listen to their leader, show him esteem, and are familiar with his ways and voice. This familiarity and intimate relationship with the shepherd gives the sheep security and life within the herd.
The voice of the Shepherd is the voice of grace. Hearing it, the sheep could only be graced themselves—staying with the Shepherd, not straying far away from him, is assured of the green pasture, of refreshing water, of the protection from possible attackers. Nothing, no one could snatch the sheep from the watchful eye of the Shepherd. The Shepherd is their way and life.
As disciples of Jesus, we are his sheep. As a community of disciples, we are called to be channels of his grace in mission—compassion, love, care for others and creation. Whatever work we do testifies to the Father at work in us. As in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 11:19-26), it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians. The grace of God was with them. Their identity was anchored in Christ. The voice of the Shepherd was heard through them.
In our day and age, we are constantly bombarded with so many sounds and voices. Social media could be distractive at times and could drown that One Voice which gives life. What do we do to distinguish the voice of the Shepherd from other sounds? How do we help ourselves to be truly attentive and attuned to the Father’s channel?
Let us pause and listen to the word of God speaking to us through those around us, through the world of creation, in our silence and inner stirrings.