Hearing and moving.

Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand.”

Good morning, Church! I am so thankful you have chosen to worship with us this Sunday as we declare: Christ is risen! He is truly risen! Alleluia!

Today we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday as the fourth Sunday of Easter is always known. We encounter the shortest Gospel concerning the Good Shepherd, only four verses. In other years it is either eight or ten verses. Yet in these four verses we clearly see the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd – the Shepherd Who cares for and protects us, the Good Shepherd Who lives up to His promises and speaks to us.

Last week we heard about Jesus’ feeding of His Apostles by the seaside. He also spoke a command to them, and to us, that we are to feed and tend His flock.

Now, we should take a moment to check in. Did we hear what Jesus asked of us concerning tending and feeding? This is important.

Today’s gospel contains a great promise to all followers of the Christ. Jesus says: “My sheep hear my voice!” He does not say we could hear his voice, or we should hear his voice, or we might hear his voice. Rather, Jesus is exceptionally clear that we do hear His voice.

As such, we should always be alert, awake, and ready to act on what God is speaking to us. It may sound strong… but if we are not hearing anything, if all we hear is silence, or if we ignore what we hear, then we are not walking in the Lord’s will. We have placed ourselves outside the sheepfold.

Think of it this way. When our moms called out to us, or call out to us, did or do we hear them? I can tell you from personal experience, when my mom wanted her will done, I could hear her, even down the block. Jimmy, Jimmy… I wanted to bury my head in the dirt, but the call and the request for a response were real. I responded.

That is what the Good Shepherd is saying. We cannot help but hear and if we are within the sheepfold we must then act.

We easily know God’s call to us because His voice is clear, right here in Holy Scripture, in Holy Tradition, in the Holy Spirit guided teaching of the Church. We indeed know God’s will and desire for us.

On top of that, we have the voice of the Holy Spirit we have each received. He leads us to the places He wishes and asks us to carry out the work He needs done: witnessing, serving, evangelizing, and more.

When the Good Shepherd’s voice is stirred in us His words are words of life. Jimmy must get up, get going and do. We all must so we may live in His sheepfold forever.

The
realization.

From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

This is the Fifth Sunday after Christmas. As we’ve been studying, Christmas is a season focused on Jesus’ revelation. 

Jesus’ revelation came first to the shepherds – the poor, lowly, and outcasts of that territory. At the arrival of the Maji, Jesus was revealed to the nations of the world. As Jesus rose up from the waters of the Jordan at His baptism the nation of Israel came to know Him as the Son of God by the descent of the Holy Spirit and the voice of the Father saying: “This is my beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.” The Baptizer finally saw clearly who Jesus is, recognizing Him as the Lamb of God come to take away the sins of the world, and he declared it.

Recalling all this, we see the many and varied ways Jesus was revealed. As we hear today, at Capernaum, there was no heavenly choir to announce Jesus’ arrival. There were no scientists from the east with precious gifts and a mighty star to follow. There was no opening of heaven, descent of a dove, or voice of the Father as at the Jordan. All Jesus had in Capernaum was His voice, His call. 

In a season focused on revelation, Jesus comes among us saying: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus delivers His message, His gospel: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” Jesus invites us to allow Him to be revealed within us. He invites us to realize Who He is. He invites us to get up and get out into the world in response as disciples carrying His message.

Today, the Gospel recalls Jesus’ arrival in Capernaum by the sea. In Capernaum, Jesus calls the first of His disciples, Andrew, the first called, followed by Simon, aka Peter, aka Cephas, James, and John. They respond fully to the awakening in their hearts. Jesus is revealed, not by signs and wonders, but by their response to interior awakening and revelation.

At Capernaum we find a new and ever permanent call to revelation. This revelation is in Jesus’ words and our call to respond. Like all those called before us, let us allow Jesus’ life to be awakened in us in ever new and great ways. Jesus is calling! Allow His revelation to take hold. Leave the old self behind and go out as His revelation to a searching world. Today, here in Schenectady, as in Capernaum, we hear Jesus. Allow Him to be revealed in us and by our response.