The fourth Sunday of Easter is always Good Shepherd Sunday. We are invited to reflect upon the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd and we as his sheep. This is a very important image from the point of view of God as the sheep are totally dependent upon the shepherd for their care. It is the shepherd who leads them to good pastures, to water and protects them from both wild animals and thieves. The same is true in our spiritual lives – we will never find true contentment and satisfaction apart from allowing Jesus to guide us into the arms of our loving Father in Heaven.

The opening line of the Gospel today captures a very important aspect of the shepherd-sheep relationship. It speaks of the sheep listening to the voice of their shepherd. In reality, the sheep of one shepherd are able to distinguish the voice of their shepherd from all the other ‘foreign’ voices that may be giving instructions at any one time. It is that voice they follow; it is that voice that they trust.

We, too, must become adept at distinguishing between the voice of God and the many other voices in the world that would lead us astray. This is not simply a moot point! It takes time and effort upon our part to be able to learn to recognise the voice of God in the midst of the maelstrom of voices we encounter every day! It is a matter of life and death that we are able to do this or we will find ourselves developing a life plan and vision that is leading us away from eternal life rather than closer to it.

In his Letter to the Colossians, Paul warns them to avoid the empty philosophies of the world (Col 2:8-9) and thus place their lives under the grace of God and his wisdom – a wisdom and truth that leads to everlasting life. There are clear choices to be made in our lives and they have consequences. Sometimes the consequences are the difference between eternal life and eternal death! Let us pray for the wisdom and grace to listen to the right voices and to thus be guided well in making our life choices.

Which are the voices I give authority in my life? Are they voices that guide me along the path of eternal life to God or are they more concerned with the matters of this world?

Jesus, help me to learn to recognise your voice, and that of the Father and the Holy Spirit so that I will be guided well in all my actions.