“I know my own and my own know me”
Throughout the Gospels Jesus uses a variety of images to describe the love that he and his heavenly Father have for us, and the relationship that they seek to have with each and every one of us. Here in this figure of the Good Shepherd we find an image that continues to resound in our hearts and minds.
The shepherd would have been a familiar sight to those to whom Jesus first addressed these words – indeed there were probably many among them who had firsthand experience doing that very job. For us however, the role and duties of the shepherd are far from our day to day experience, and yet the image is still one that strikes us.
In speaking of his role as shepherd, Jesus tells his followers that those of his flock will know his voice when they hear it.
This seems strange to us today. How can we, who live 2000 some years after the time of Christ hear and know his voice?
Firstly, we need to take some time out – to stop and to pray. To reflect on God’s Word as it comes to us in Scripture and in Liturgy. We need to open ourselves and not try to impose our own wishes on to what the Lord may be telling us.
Pope Francis rightly points out that “It is so difficult to listen to the voice of Jesus, the voice of God, when you believe that that the whole world revolves around you: there is no horizon, because you become your own horizon,”
The words of Jesus in today’s reading point us to how we can move out of that frame of mind which positions us as our own horizon – we must emulate the Good Shepherd who freely lays down his life for his beloved. It is only in this self-emptying service of God and of neighbour that we are sufficiently freed to be able to hear fully the words of Christ and to listen to them.
Let us ask for the grace to trust in His mercy, to be able to give ourselves fully over to Him who saves.