My Sheep Hear My Voice; I Know Them, and They Follow Me
May 8, 2019
Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus,
Jesus is stronger than sin and death. By His Resurrection, Jesus has conquered sin and death once and for all. No sin is too great to be forgiven; death, the consequence of sin, no longer rules over us. Jesus promises to keep us in His almighty hand. In Greek, the word we translate as “hand” can be used in a variety of ways, referring to power, authority, or discipline. In this context, using the image of a shepherd, I suggest that Jesus is talking about his strong but gentle care for us. The good shepherd does not use his strength to harm his sheep unnecessarily, but instead protects them from harm with his strength. In the same way, Jesus is reminding us of His divine power and His gentle love for us. We are protected from sin as long as we stay close to Him.
We, like sheep, may wander astray and get into trouble. Jesus, like a good shepherd or loving father, gathers us back to Himself each and every time. We may feel threatened by outside forces, but our only real peril lies in allowing ourselves to drift away from God. We need to remain near our shepherd—to know His voice intimately through time spent close to Jesus. We return to the Gospels over and over again to hear Him speak to us. This is why every Mass begins with Sacred Scripture, so that we might know Him Whom we receive in the Eucharist and stay close to His loving care.