Following the Shepherd's voice
A reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year A
by Chris Bray
I remember returning to my childhood home one weekend to visit my parents. As I began to make my way I realized that what would normally take just over an hour, would quickly double or triple in time. There was a thick fog that began to cover the roads, making it difficult to see. I didn’t have GPS, or a map, which normally I didn’t need because I had journeyed this drive hundreds of times. My brain could normally navigate this route on autopilot. However, this time was different. I couldn’t see the street signs, the town names, or any familiar landmarks. I felt completely lost like I was trying to find my way in a void or great abyss.
It wasn’t until I finally came to the bright light at the major intersection pointing to my childhood home that I was found. It was a moment of great relief as that streetlight acted like a lighthouse, as a beacon of hope for me in that moment of fear, anxiety, and worry. Because of that glimpse of light, I could begin to see the familiar landmarks, leading me home.
In the readings this weekend, we are reminded that Jesus is our Great Shepherd. That we, His sheep, are called by Him, to follow and trust in Him and His voice. He is the gatekeeper, and all who enter through Him are saved and find pasture. Jesus reminds us that He has come so that we might have life and life in abundance.
So often I think we get distracted, like lost sheep. Perhaps we find ourselves astray and off track. Maybe at times we even think that we want to make our own way, only to find that we are lost in the fog and abyss of regret, mistakes, and brokenness, feeling alone and hopeless.
However, the good news of the Gospel is that no matter where we are in our journey, no matter our past, mistakes, brokenness, doubts, fears, or regrets, we have a Divine Shepherd who will seek after us relentlessly, to restore us to relationship with Him. He calls to us, like a light in the darkness, so that we can hear His voice, recognize Him and His truth, leading us back home.
Jesus instituted the Church, to be His voice for us, to lead us and to guide. It is the Church that acts like our GPS or navigation system. Just like when I turn on Google Maps, and I’m immediately found, the Church meets us where we are at to help us navigate to our eternal destination of Heaven.
Perhaps at times in our pride or sin, we decide that we want to make our own path, or find our own way, and discover ourselves lost, on some back road in the haze. Our GPS, the Church, meets us there and shows us how to get back on track. She offers us the Sacraments, instituted by Christ Himself, so we can receive God’s grace, like at Pentecost, when being cut to the heart after hearing the Gospel message preached by Peter, they asked, “What shall we do?” And Peter replied, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
The Church leads us like the voice of our Good Shepherd, equipping us with the Holy Spirit we received within us through Baptism and the sacramental graces we surrender to so that we can find pasture and salvation in our Shepherd, Christ Jesus.
As Peter exhorted the thousands longing for hope in Jerusalem, “save yourselves from this corrupt generation”, so should we cling to the voice of Jesus, calling us from our isolation and despair into deeper relationship and unity with Him to receive the abundance of life, found only in our Saviour.
The readings for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year A, are
Acts 2:14a, 36-41
1 Peter 2:20b-25
Chris Bray is a full time travelling Catholic speaker and musician. Having received multiple Gospel Music Association Covenant awards and numerous #1 hit songs on Christian radio in Canada, his ministry has spanned North America, from headlining the National March for Life rally on Parliament Hill to presenting to tens of thousands each year at hundreds of conferences, retreats, schools and churches.
More @ www.chrisbraymusic.com