(Song) “When he calls me, I will answer (3x’s); I’ll be somewhere listening for my name…
Our gospel reading today, from the tenth Chapter of John, reminds us, as Jesus’ disciples, that our Lord, The Good Shepherd knows us by name and reminds us of the importance of listening to His voice.
After the crucifixion and death of Jesus, the Christians were suffering hardships and persecution. Not only did they have to deal with the customary distresses of life, but they faced questions such as, “Would they be arrested? And if so, how would they die?” So, John reached out to minister to the temptations and insecurities of the people of his day by helping them to remember some of the words that Jesus spoke to them long before He was crucified.
"Jesus," says John, "is the Good Shepherd." He is the trustworthy one who is willing to lay down his life for his sheep. So, we are challenged to trust Jesus to shepherd us safely through life. Yes we can follow the voice of Jesus into the green pastures, for he says, "My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me."
The call of our Lord, however, is very often "hidden" in a whole chorus of worldly voices that call out to us. Other “would-be” shepherds seek to call us away from the Good Shepherd, away from the joy of his forgiveness and away from the security of his love.
I am reminded of the story of an American tourist who was traveling in the Mid-East. He came upon several shepherds whose flocks had intermingled while drinking water from a brook. After an exchange of greetings, one of the shepherds turned toward the sheep and called out, "Manah, Manah, Manah." (Manah means "follow me" in Arabic.)
Immediately his sheep separated themselves from the rest and followed him.
Another shepherd called out in the same way and his sheep left the common flock to follow him. The traveler then said to the third shepherd, "I would like to try that. Let me put on your cloak and turban and see if I can get your sheep to follow me."
The shepherd smiled knowingly as the traveler wrapped himself in the cloak, put the turban on his head and called out to the remaining sheep to no avail. Not one of them moved toward him.
"Will the sheep ever follow someone other than you?" The traveler asked.
The shepherd replied, "Sometimes a sheep gets sick, and then it will follow anyone."
Many of us, young and old, experience the sickness of being battered by the storms of life, and distracted by voices urging us to go in various directions that can very often lead to a sense of hopelessness, despair, or emotional or spiritual trauma that urges the following of anyone or anything that promises a moment of happiness, or a brief feeling of peace.
Some have resorted to abandoning the church and therefore forfeiting the warmth of fellowship, the power of forgiveness and the gifts of grace. The false gods leave them feeling deserted, lost, and bewildered.
Our very lives depend on our choosing the option of following the Good Shepherd, and to declare with our lips and our lives that he is indeed the Way, the Truth and the Life. This one and only Good Shepherd calls out to us in our heartbreak and our loneliness. He calls out to us in our frustration and our guilt.
This Good Shepherd brings His love to our lovelessness. This Good Shepherd brings His power to our powerlessness. This Good Shepherd stands by His promise, "I give you life eternal and nothing in all creation will ever be able to snatch you out of my hand."
It is true that coping with our fears is a terrific battle; sometimes it seems overwhelming. I don’t know about you, but I need a Shepherd who will tower over my life so that I can rest, knowing his mighty power will sustain me through it all.
There is no other Way! There is no more liberating Truth! There is no greater strength for Life!
My sisters and my brothers, it is my privilege today to invite you to listen to the call of the Good Shepherd, to accept his invitation to let him be your God. Listen to him.
It is always interesting for me to note that the miracles that propelled St. Katharine Drexel, the foundress of my religious community, to canonization on October 1, 2000 were both miracles of hearing.
Both miracles invite us all to listen more and perhaps to talk less. In fact, I recall someone saying once that it has to be significant that God gave us only one mouth and two ears.
My sisters and brothers, on this Fourth Sunday of Easter, let us remember that we belong to Jesus, who loves us far more than we can ever hope for or imagine. His only purpose is to be the Good Shepherd Who promises us safe passage through the uncertainties of life. That is the only good news I have for you today. We have nothing to lose in following Him-but everything to gain. He is the Way of salvation. He is the Truth that endures forever. He is the Life that never ends.
Song: Yes, I’ll be somewhere listening. I’ll be somewhere, listening.
I’ll be somewhere listening for my name.”
Sr. Jane Nesmith, SBS
Sr. Jane Nesmith, SBS
Sister Jane Nesmith is a native of Philadelphia, PA, and a 58-year member of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education with a concentration in Religious Studies and a Certification in Youth Ministry from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, WI.
Sister’s previous mission sites included: Rayne, Lake Charles, and New Orleans, LA; Seattle, WA; Evansville, IN; and Jamaica, West Indies. She taught youth of all grade levels, coordinated youth programs, served as a Director of Campus Ministry, Pastoral Associate, Pastoral Life Coordinator, and co-founded a pilot youth ministry program at Xavier University. She has also served as a founding and board member of the National Black Sisters’ Conference.
Sister Jane served as Pastoral Life Coordinator at St. John the Apostle Church in Evansville, IN from 1996-2013, where she also founded the Neighborhood Educational Enrichment Development Site (NEEDS). NEEDS was established as an outreach site whose mission was to enhance the quality of life for the underprivileged.
She is the author of “Feed the Multitudes,” a personal testimony to God’s saving presence in the midst of His people, and co-producer of a rosary CD that provides more ethnic sensitive tools of evangelization; four volumes of original music entitled: PRAYERS OF THE HEART; and a Rosary Pamphlet featuring ethnically sensitive portraits of the Mysteries of the Rosary with scriptural references and reflections of St. Katharine Drexel.
Sister Jane is currently the Vice-President of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.
Her greatest claim to fame is being a child of God. She can often be heard saying, “I am blessed by The Best and I am trying to share it with the rest.”
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