The Voice of the Good Shepherd
Matthew 5.17, 20-24, 27-28, 33-34, 37++
full reading: Matthew 5.17-37
6th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year A
3-6 year olds
(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, focusses on Jesus's voice as he speaks to the people--he who is the Word made flesh.)
In the Gospel reading this Sunday, Jesus does a LOT of talking. He is sitting on a hillside, and all the people gather around him. They are fascinated. They make themselves comfortable and listen. They do not seem to interrupt. They just listen to his voice.
We know something about Jesus' voice, don't we? Jesus tells us that he is the Good Shepherd, and the Good Shepherd has a particular way of taking care of his sheep. 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.
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 is he telling them?
He's telling them how to stay close to the Good Shepherd, how to draw closer to God. Some of the people might think it is difficult to stay close to the Good Shepherd, that what he is asking is difficult. They worry that they will not be able to follow him. But what they don't know is that, as they are listening to his voice, his voice changes them--they come to know him even better.
I wonder what the voice of the Good Shepherd sounds like?