The Good Shepherd. 1 “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. 2 But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. 5 But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.” 6 Although Jesus used this figure of speech, they did not realize what he was trying to tell them.
7 So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came [before me] are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 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. 13 This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. 16 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. 17 This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18 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.”
19 Again there was a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, “He is possessed and out of his mind; why listen to him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the words of one possessed; surely a demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?” (John 10:1-21)
We are surrounded by many voices. Which is the voice of God?
The shepherds would put their flock together at night in a common enclosure for protection and companionship. They would separate the sheep in the morning by using their voices. Each shepherd had trained his sheep to be attuned only to his voice. The shepherd would walk away from the enclosure calling his sheep, often by their individual names, and they would follow him. They would not follow another shepherd, even if he imitated the real master’s voice.
We need to discern God’s voice by characteristics such as:
The voice of God invites us to holiness, even in the call to humility.
The voice of God challenges and stretches us and ultimately soothes and comforts us.
The voice of God is privileged in the poor.
The voice of God invites us to live beyond fear, though the voice may inspire holy fear.
The voice of God is heard with genuine enjoyment and gratitude even if the voice asks to deny and die ourselves.
The voice of God calls us by name.