In today's gospel, we are told that we are the sheep, and Jesus is the shepherd. But when you think about, being compared to sheep isn’t exactly an endearing thought. Sheep are not the most intelligent of animals, they have a tendency wander off on their own, they don’t recognize danger until it’s too late, and because of their wool, they can at times be dirty and smelly.
It’s for those reasons that sheep are in need of a shepherd. A good shepherd keeps his flock together, keeps them from danger, spends time with the flock so that the sheep learn to trust him and recognize his voice. Even then, a sheep can wander off, and the shepherd has to pull them back. Ever notice how a shepherd’s staff has a hook on it? That’s so it can pull the sheep back if it gets away from the rest.
In a sense, I suppose that sheep does describe us. Sure, we do have our various strengths and talents, our wits and intelligence. But we also have our own personal vulnerabilities, our struggles and difficulties. All of us have the tendency to go off course from time to time.
But what are we to do with it all? What direction are we supposed to go? How do we recognize any danger in our lives before its upon us? We need a guide, someone who we can trust and follow.
Now, there are many voices we hear these days which attempt to answer those questions. Yet with all these different voices, we are to follow the voice of Jesus. And why Jesus? What is he calling us to do, and where is he going to lead us? Quite simply, he is calling us to Himself, and that means to enter into loving and fulfilling relationship with him. It means to put behind us the things that hamper that relationship, namely our sins.
Our sins cause us to turn in on ourselves, it causes us to get off the path and no longer see where we are going, and often enough, it causes us to be alone. So, we must look to Jesus and open our ears, so that we can see and hear him as he guides us along the way.
This is not always easy, and at times someone may need to help pull us back in order to stay on the right path. But Christ came to do just that, to destroy sin and death, to help us lead a life of joy with him, and to lead us toward everlasting life with him in heaven.
Remember that our beliefs as Christians is not in an idea, but in a living person, Jesus Christ, and so it is important that we always seek to hear his voice and follow him. In these days, in an unfamiliar situation and living, we can be tempted to wonder off, or become lost. But we must always humbly turn to Christ and follow him.
As it is, there’s no shame in being seen as a sheep, not when our shepherd is Jesus Christ, who became one of us, suffered and died for us, and rose from the dead so that we all might have a joyful life with him. With Christ as our guide and shepherd, we receive fulfillment, strength to live our lives, and a real joy that can exist even when things don’t go well for us. And most important, it is a lasting relationship that not even death can destroy.
Let us then find ways to better clear the noise that often is around us, so that we may clearly hear his voice and follow him.