A Reflection on the Readings for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, April 30, 2023
I sometimes wonder why Jesus uses the examples He does in his parables and why the Bible can appear so tedious to read through in some parts (see 1 Chronicles). I couldn’t help thinking that again when I read today’s Gospel when Jesus calls himself a shepherd. The closest I have come to understanding what a shepherd does is by watching the movie, “Babe.”
Fortunately, God knows us better than to lay things out on the table, for us to simply take something on the surface as it is. We like stories. We like figuring things out. The twists and turns of a mystery keep our attention and intrigue us. My husband and I have stayed up late into the night to finish a season of Sherlock just to see how things turn out and how all the clues fit together. Additionally, when my children do something wrong, I find the first question out of my mouth before I even think about it is always, “Why?” We need to know the underlying reason.
God knows this about us, of course, how we enjoy digging deeper, discovering the truth beyond.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus comparing Himself to a shepherd and us as his sheep compels me to investigate the truth of what He is trying to reveal. For me, it is his voice.
The voice is a powerful thing. Whitney Houston’s rendition of “I Will Always Love You” evokes more emotion than I’m willing to admit. My husband’s laughter can bring me out of the dullest of moods. If you can’t hear the tone of someone’s voice in a text, sarcasm can be quickly lost on the recipient, making or breaking a person’s peace of mind. And in the Gospel reading from John, Jesus says the word “voice” not once, not twice, but three times in this passage. His sheep “hear his voice,” “recognize his voice,” and conversely, “do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
There is another voice – one very loud and constant. The voice of my own generation dishes out a lot of promises. Buy this, this, and this, and you will be happy (or happier) if you live this way, same deal. Quite the bargain, it would appear. “Be true to yourself.” “Love is love.” “Follow your heart.” “Pro-choice.” Unfortunately, the voice of these slogans does not reveal the truth but seeks to mask it, tempting us to take these words exactly as they are.
“Pro-choice” is a brilliant euphemism. Who wouldn’t want to subscribe to an idea that is so positive? Of course, people should make their own decisions, right? But it slyly covers the reality of the horrific killing of an innocent baby, whether by dismemberment, suffocation or starvation. The actual procedure of an abortion will only be explained or shown to the public by those seeking to expose what being “pro-choice” really means. Once someone sees what it actually is, the truth of it, oftentimes their mind is radically changed on the matter. Sadly, so many learn firsthand that the promised consequences of deciding to have an abortion do not result in “freedom.” Instead, they are shackled to depression, loss, and heartache (aside from the lasting physical effects). They, too late, discover that our generation’s voice is a lying one that “comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” John 10:10.
Thankfully, the voice of Jesus reveals the truth, not lies. He cares for us like a shepherd does his flock – guiding, gathering, feeding and keeping them safe. We are guarded by our shepherd to “green pastures…beside still waters…[restoring] my soul…” Ps 23:2-3. So that we “might have life and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10.
Author: Katy Cabera