(Adults, the Gospel for this Sunday considers moral behaviour. For the youngest children it is important that they know for whom they are choosing to behave in a certain manner, before considering what that behaviour should be. In fact, we can say that this is vital, since God invites us into covenant relationship. We want the children to fall in love with God; all behaviour will flow out of this relationship. The following reflection therefore, considers Who God Is.)
This Sunday we hear Jesus tell a parable about saying things and doing things. There is a man who owns a vineyard. (I think we have heard about him before!) The man has two children. He wants them to help in the vineyard, perhaps picking the grapes.
One child says,
‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went.
His mouth says no, but his body says yes. Those answers don't match. His words and actions are not the same.
The other child says,
‘I am going, sir’; but he did not go.
His mouth says yes, but his body says no. Those answers don't match either! His words and actions are not the same.
This seems to be a parable where everything is mixed up. Nothing matches.
When things are mixed up, it can make us feel uncomfortable. We need someone to straighten things out, to put things back where they belong. We need someone whose words and actions match.
We need the Good Shepherd.
He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.
Why do the sheep follow him? They know his voice.
I wonder what his voice sounds like... I wonder what they know about his voice...
It must be a good voice so that they want to follow.
We hear in the Bible these words,
The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need...He guides me in the right paths, as he has promised. (Psalm 23:1, 3)
The Good Shepherd promises the right path, and the Good Shepherd leads the sheep in the right path. His mouth and his body say the same thing. His words and his actions match. No wonder the sheep follow him! They know that what he says and what he does are not all mixed up. They are the same.
It is a good voice.