Fourth Sunday of Easter
May 3, 2020
Among the many gifts that men and women in law enforcement acquire is how to use their voice to control a situation or to keep others safe. It’s not so much what they say as how they say it. If you’ve ever heard it, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s not at all unlike the voice of you parents when you need the undivided attention of your kids, a voice that usually involves their middle name: Gary Lee Krahenbuhl - you get out here NOW!
But we also hear other voices in our lives, voices that are not so much of authority, as comfort. Voices of our friends that call just at the right time to assure us that they are with us through our latest crisis. Or the voice of your beloved when they tell you once again that they love you and, of course, they forgive you. Or the voice of a parent that reassures a child in the midst of the latest storm of life that it’s going to be OK.
There are other voices, of course, that we listen to in life – the voice of civil authority and church teachings; the voice of commercialism that convince us of all those things we can’t live without; the voices of greed and of revenge that arise out of fear and anger; the voice of desire that is fired by our sexuality.
And there is this other voice - a voice unlike any other - the voice of the Good Shepherd. It will most likely not be the loudest voice or even the voice that leads us down an easy path. But when we hear it, we know it’s a voice we cannot ignore. It captures the attention of our souls and somehow calls us from an authority that is beyond any human power or threat. It pronounces mercy in a way that the world cannot because it is the voice of Christ, the living God; the voice that speaks so deep in our soul that it is impossible to ignore. In the crowded marketplace of this world, in a society that clamors to get our attention, the voice of Christ keeps saying the same thing it’s been saying for two thousand years:
It’s never too late to repent; just try again. It is never too late to ask for forgiveness or to offer forgiveness to another. It is never too late to come back. The true authority and the ultimate mercy of the voice of the Shepherd tells us that love always wins, that God’s mercy is never exhausted, that we are beloved by our God and there is nothing that can change that.
Folks, we may sometimes think that the first disciples of Christ must have had it easy; after all, they were right there with Jesus and had the privilege of actually hearing his voice day after day. But they clearly didn’t have anything that we have now. The Voice of the Good Shepherd that echoed in their memory speaks clearly to us today in the sacred memory planted in our souls.
They also came to know, as we have come to know, that if follow the voice of the Shepherd it will, most likely, involve some sort of sacrifice; and that we are not exempt from suffering in this world, even when we suffer for doing what was good and right and just.
What we have to remember, even in the midst of sacrifice and in the midst of any suffering is this: It is the desire of the guardian of our souls, the Good Shepherd, that we have life and have it more abundantly. Isn’t that a voice we need to hear today? The guardian of our souls desires that we have eternal life. And isn’t that the Voice we need to hear every day?