4th Sunday of Easter – Year C
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: May 12, 2019
Are you a good listener? I should probably ask your spouse, or your friends, or your children that question. Listening well is difficult, it is a skill that needs to be developed. It is not just about hearing the words, it is about hearing deeply into the heart, into the meaning.
Good listening is a key to marriage, a key to any community, and it is a key to a good spiritual life. In John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice.” Being a good Catholic requires being a good listener. Are you listening to the voice of the shepherd, are you listening to the voice of Jesus?
Years ago when I was Vocation Director in the Diocese, I had to assist people discerning a possible vocation to the priesthood or religious life. They struggled to know if this was really a call from the Lord. But, the difficulty is that this call usually does not come in some dramatic fashion or in a loud voice. Sometimes people are looking for some sign. But, the voice of the Lord comes in a much more subtle way, often only recognized in complete silence.
How do we listen for the voice of Jesus in our lives?
Listen to the people in our life: Your spouse, your children, your parents, your friends, the poor, refugees. Are we listening to the cry of need in the people within our family? Are we listening to the cry of need in people within our community? Jesus speaks to us at times through the needs of others. Often we who call ourselves Christians are not listening to the voice of Jesus when it is not convenient, when it comes through the disabled, the child with autism, refugees, or one person quietly in anguish within our own home.
Listen to creation: Jesus is the face of God, the source of all creation. Therefore, we also able to hear the voice of the Lord in creation. Latest report indicates that up to 1 million plants and animals could go extinct in the near future. We know the effects of climate change that we face. Are we listening to the cry of our earth. The voice of the Lord is heard in creation as well.
Listen to the Scriptures: Each Sunday we listen to the Word of God proclaimed in the Scriptures. Many also take time at home to read the Gospels. When we are listening to the Scriptures we need to let Jesus speak to our heart.
In Silence: To listen to someone, we need to stop talking for a moment. We need to shut off distractions, including our phones. Inner silence where we stop for a moment is the key to good listening. Silence is necessary in our life to hear the voice of the shepherd.
Listening is an important skill, it is a great gift we can offer to another person, it is the key to community and family. Good listening is also necessary to be a Christian. As Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice.”
Are we listening to the voice of the shepherd speaking to us in the people in need within our life? Are we listening to the voice of the shepherd speaking to us in the cry of creation? Are we listening to the voice of the shepherd speaking to our hearts in the Scriptures? Are we ever silent enough to hear the quiet voice of the shepherd calling within us?