REFLECTION FOR TODAY
April 26, 2021
By Fr. Andrew Ibegbulem, OSA
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. Jn. 10:2-4
We can easily sense the loving care, which the shepherd has for his sheep and how familiar he is with him. When the shepherd goes to gather his sheep, presumably after they have been penned up for the night, he calls his sheep by name and leads them out. When the shepherd has brought out all his own, which is not easy because of the crowded condition of the corral, he then goes ahead of them to lead them to pasture.
The sheep on their part follow the shepherd because they have heard his voice and know it. They will not follow a stranger but will run from him, because they do not recognize his voice. While the sheep follow their shepherd willing, they will not follow anyone else. indeed, they flee from stranger. Do you recognize the voice of the Shepherd? Does He lead you each and every day, guiding you into His holy will? How attentive are you to what He speaks each day? These are some of the most important questions to ponder.
Recognizing God’s voice is something that many people struggle with. There are often many competing “voices” that speak to us each and every day. From the latest news in the headlines, to the opinions of friends and family, to the temptations all around us within the secular world, to our own self-drawn opinions, these “voices” or “ideas” that fill our minds can be hard to sort through. What is from God? And what is from other sources?
Recognizing the voice of God is indeed possible. First of all, there are many general truths that God has already spoken to us. For example, everything contained in the Holy Scriptures are the voice of God. His Word is alive and active. And when we read the Scriptures, we become more and more familiar with God’s voice.
God also speaks to us through gentle inspirations that result in His peace. For example, when considering a certain decision, you may need to make, if you present that decision to our Lord prayerfully and then remain open to whatever He wants of you, oftentimes His answer comes in the form of a deep and certain peace of heart.
Learning to recognize the voice of God in your daily life is accomplished by building an interior habit of listening, recognizing, responding, listening some more, recognizing and responding, etc. The more you hear the voice of God, the more you will recognize His voice in the most subtle of ways, and the more you come to hear the subtleties of His voice, the more you will be able to follow. In the end, this is only accomplished by an ongoing habit of deep and sustaining prayer. Without that, it will be very difficult to recognize the voice of the Shepherd when you need Him the most.
Reflect, today, upon how attentive you are to God in prayer. What does your daily prayer look like? Do you spend time each day, listening to the gentle and beautiful voice of our Lord? Do you seek to form a habit by which His voice becomes clearer and clearer? If not, if you do struggle in recognizing His voice, then make the decision to establish a deeper habit of daily prayer so that it is the voice of our loving Lord Who leads you every day.
Jesus, my Good Shepherd, You speak to me each and every day. You are constantly revealing to me Your most holy will for my life. Help me to always recognize Your gentle voice so that I can be led by You through the challenges of life. May my life of prayer become so deep and sustaining that Your voice always echoes within my heart and soul. Jesus, I trust in You.