The average American is bombarded by over 5,000 messages in a single day. Television, radio, internet, cell phone, signs, public address systems, etc. all pour out messages – invading our peace and quiet – over stimulating our senses – fighting for our attention - in an attempt to convince, persuade, inform, sell – products, ideas, philosophies, lifestyles and every other thing.
In every direction we look, in every way we turn our ears – even our noses are assaulted with messages - ever walk in the mall and smell the cookies baking? Someone is trying to get us to hear their “voice” – trying to get us to pay attention to them – trying to communicate to us – their message.
In simpler, quieter times, shepherds would gather their flocks together in the evening for mutual protection and support. They would take turns watching over the several flocks gathered together while the other shepherds ate and slept through the night. In the morning they would each go off with their sheep to separate pastures.
Now, sheep have poor organization skills. During the night they would wander around; mingling together with sheep of other flocks, so that in the morning who could tell one’s sheep from another? But the shepherds only had to call out to their sheep and each one’s own flock would follow his voice and separate from the other sheep; going off together with their shepherd. That’s a pretty nifty thing, don’t you think?
Being a shepherd is a very lonely job. So, shepherds talk to their sheep all day long, singing to them, calling out to them, bringing them to good pastures, as they protect them from predators and the elements that would harm them. Sheep completely rely on the shepherd for their very lives. When they get tangled up in the brush, he rescues them. When they wander off, the shepherd searches for them and bring them back into the security of the flock, under his protection. The sheep belong to the shepherd – they are his own and he spends his life caring for them.
We too have a Good Shepherd – Jesus. His is the Voice we know, the Voice of God – the voice we listen to and follow - the Word made Flesh. He watches over His flock, given to him by the Father. He spent his life for us. We are his sheep, the flock He watches over. We hear His voice and follow because we know He loves us and cares for us. He is our protector and guide. He leads us to green pastures and beside still waters – He rescues us and searches for us when we are lost, alone and afraid. He calls us back into His peace, safety – to live with him forever.
We are His forever. Even after he returned to the Father, he commissioned Peter to: “feed my sheep, tend my flock (and) feed my lambs.” He sent the Holy Spirit into the world to guide us and lift us up, so that we might be comforted. Jesus continues today to watch over us, care for our needs and brings us into life eternal in heaven with the Father.
He brought us the Good News of the Eternal Kingdom and love of God, the Father and asks us to continue bringing that same Good News to one another and all future generations. Despite hardships and persecutions, He brings us joy and peace as we hear His Voice and follow him for we know that Jesus continues to be our Good Shepherd; calling his sheep together – in His Church, - by His Word, - through His people – into the peace and love of God forever and ever.
Deacon Don Ron