(Adults, the Gospel reading this week speaks about how to live righteously. 3-6 year olds are at a stage of enjoying the gift of relationship with God, and we ought not to rush them into a moral reflection on what to do to remain in that relationship. This reflection, therefore, focuses on Jesus's voice as he speaks to the people—he who is the Word made flesh.)
full reading: Matthew 5.17-37
Sometimes, when we listen to the Word of God, we hear about Jesus doing many things. Other times, we hear about him saying many things. In the Gospel reading for this Sunday, Jesus says a great lot of things. We hear:
On the mountain, Jesus gathered his disciples around him and he taught them
He sits on the hillside, and all the people gather around him. They make themselves comfortable and listen. They do not seem to interrupt while he teaches them. They are fascinated. They have come from all over, just to listen to his voice.
We know something about Jesus' voice. When Jesus tells us that he is the Good Shepherd we hear that the Good Shepherd has a particular way of taking care of his sheep.
He calls his own sheep by name... (John 10:3b)
He uses his voice to call them by name. He goes ahead of them and,
the sheep follow him because they know his voice (John 10:4b)
This is amazing! It is amazing because usually sheep are unruly—that means they are all over the place.
Look at these sheep! They are not paying any attention to the shepherd.
And usually shepherds walk behind the sheep, pushing them forwards so that they go the right way, like this:
If an ordinary shepherd walks in front of the sheep, he will lose them.
Not the Good Shepherd, though. His sheep listen and follow.
The voice of the Good Shepherd must be very special so that all the sheep listen and follow.
The Good Shepherd sits on the hillside in this Sunday's reading and speaks to all the people. They listen carefully to his voice. What does he tell them?
He tells them how to stay close to the Good Shepherd, how to draw closer to God. He tells them how to listen, how to follow. Some of the people might think it is too difficult to stay close to the Good Shepherd, that what he is asking is hard. They worry that they will not be able to follow him.
But what they do not know is that,
as they listen to his voice,
his voice changes them—they come to know him even better.
When we listen to the Word of God, our ears hear the voice of the person who reads it to us. But deep inside our hearts, whose voice do we hear?
We wonder what the voice of the Good Shepherd sounds like...