What does the Good Shepherd Sound like?

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Acts 4:8-12

Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said: "Leaders of the people and elders: If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved, then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed. He is the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved."

1 John 3:1-2

Beloved: See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

John 10:11-18

Jesus said: "I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father."

And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
(T.S. Eliot, “Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock”)

In “Lovesong”, T.S. Eliot, through the persona of Prufrock, expresses one of the most fundamental concerns that has troubled humanity since the beginning of time, that is, an existential question about one’s purpose in life.  This question is dropped on our plate, whether we like it or not, while time continues to disregard our “Indecisions”, “visions” and “revisions”.  We are often subjected to the pull from opposing forces that leave us confused and helpless.  Prufrock reflects, “Do I dare / Disturb the universe?” We may even avoid making decisions all together out of fear.  Similarly, Prufrock admits, “and in short, I was afraid”.   Of what is he afraid?  “Works and days of hands”? What lies ahead?  Unfortunately, avoidance often leads us down a path of disbelief and regrets.

In this Sunday’s readings, God’s outstretched hands extend an intimate invitation to all, regardless of their appearance, strengths or limitations, to return to the fold.  It is interesting that God does not only call those whom we think “should” belong, He also extends the same invitation to “other sheep that do not belong to this fold” (Jn 10:16).  God’s mercy is boundless and for all, not just a selected few.  “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God” (1Jn 3:1).

The Good Shepherd’s voice is gentle; calling us out of the depth of our darkness and indecisions; offering us a vision that is “marvelous in our eyes” and beyond human imaginations (Ps 118:23).   However, we are constantly bombarded with contradictory voices that could only lead us away from the fold into fear.  Indeed, it is “better to take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in princes” (Ps 118:9).

So, what does the Good Shepherd sound like?  Where can we find Him?
Perhaps this little story, called “The Great Silence”, may inspire you:
“Would you teach me silence?”  I asked.
He seemed to be pleased.  “Is it the Great Silence that you want?”
“Yes, the Great Silence.”
“Well, where do you think it’s to be found?” he asked.
“Deep within me, I suppose.  If only I could go deep within, I’m sure I’d escape the noise at last. But it’s hard.  Will you help me?”  I knew he would.  I could feel his concern, and his spirit was so silent.
“Well, I’ve been there,” he answered.  “I spent years going in.  I did taste the silence there.  But one day Jesus came – maybe it was my imagination – and said to me simply, ‘Come, follow me.’  I went out, and I’ve never gone back.”
I was stunned.  “But the silence …”
“I’ve found the Great Silence, and I’ve come to see that the noise was inside.”

(Theophane the Monk, “The Great Silence”.  Tales of a Magic Monastery, 55)

Our Good Shepherd is “good” because He is utterly selfless.  He who “lay down [His] life for the sheep” is the one true voice leading us from darkness to light; slavery to freedom; death to life (Jn 10:15).  He invites us to do the same for others: to be light of the world; living signs of God’s love and hope.  Therefore, do not be afraid!  Dare to “disturb the universe”!  May we find the “Great Silence” somewhere deep in our hearts; may we have the courage to say “yes” to our Good Shepherd.  “O that today you would listen to his voice!  Do not harden your hearts” (Ps 95: 7-8).

Posted: April 22, 2018

Susanna Mak

Susanna深信,信仰需要在日常生活中顯露出來,尤其是當與別人相處時,需要分擔對方所面對的困境、抉擇和挑戰。她有着很多不同的身份:女兒、姐姐、朋友、姨姨、妻子、老師、校牧、終身學習者和偶爾替《生命恩泉》寫作的作者。在每一個身份當中, 她努力為天主的愛和希望作見証。 她在多倫多擔任高中教師近二十年,擁有英語、學生讀寫能力、青年領袖活動、校牧組等經驗。 她是多倫多大學商業和英語學士,教育學士,亞省Athabasca大學綜合研究碩士,以及擁有多倫多大學Regis學院神學研究碩士證書。她對於成為《生命恩泉》寫作團隊的一份子, 深感榮幸。 Susanna has a deep conviction that faith needs to be manifested in daily life, particularly, in one’s encounters with others as well as amidst dilemmas, choices, and challenges. She strives to be a living sign of God’s love and hope as a daughter, sister, friend, aunt, wife, teacher, chaplain, life-long learner, and occasional writer for FLL. She has been a high school teacher in Toronto for almost 20 years, with experiences in English and literacy, youth leadership initiatives, the Chaplaincy Team, to mention a few. She has a B. Comm, B.A. in English, and a B. Education from University of Toronto, an M.A. in Integrated Studies from Athabasca University, and a Graduate Certificate of Theological Studies from Regis College, U of T. She is humbled by the opportunity to be part of the FLL Writing Team.

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