Voice Recognition

Week of April 17, 2016

This past year we were invited by the leadership of the parish and the Parish Council to find our voice in the call of discipleship.  There is something to the call and voice recognition.  How many times do we look at a number on caller ID and make a decision to listen or ignore?   How often do we discount voices that we do not recognize?   At times the voices of society get so strong that we begin to tune things out.  How often do we tune the voices of others out?

Today Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice”.  Today Jesus says, “My sheep recognize my voice and follow”.  How do we know it is Jesus?  How do we know the sound of His voice over others?   It would be simple if there was caller ID that said “heaven, or Jesus”.  That would clear up a lot of things for us.  How do we know the sound of the voice of the Good Shepherd?  Love.  It is that simple.  I was always amazed as a priest when at times when I was visiting people’s homes, and there was a gathering of children running around, inevitably one would crash into another and crying would ensue.  The part that amazed me is when a mom would say “Oh, that’s my kid”, even when she was in another room.  Or at family gatherings, there were times when my brother-in-law would listen to the cry of my niece from another room and knew that she would be ok, because he could discern that her cry was not the tragic shriek of real pain.  How do parents know these things?  Love.

The Real Presence of Jesus offered in the Eucharist invites us to listen to the voice of love.  In the gift of the Eucharist Jesus invites us to intimately get to know His voice.  It is one of tenderness and love.  It is one that captures our heart and holds us, knowing what we need long before we ever need it.   That is His voice; follow it, cherish it, love it in return.  Jesus has a voice that calls to us.  Voice recognition comes with relationship and time.  That is why it is important to pray and celebrate the Sacraments.  Doing so allows us to hear often and clearly the love of the Shepherd.

The other stark reality of this passage is that the Shepherd knows our voice.  That is amazing to me.  The God of the universe, who sent His only begotten Son to save us from our sins, longs to hear our voice.  He can recognize us in our needs. He can recognize us in our pain.  He can tell that we love Him by the love found in our voice.  He does not need caller ID; He knows every part of us.

Let us together find ourselves listening to the voice of the one true shepherd who speaks only love.

Rev. John J. Ouper