In order to appreciate fully the import of this beautiful gospel passage, we need to pay close attention to the context. Earlier in chapter ten, Jesus had called himself the good shepherd and then defined a good shepherd as one who loves his sheep and is prepared to die for them. Sheep herding, contrary to some popular conceptions, is a hard and lonely life, but the true shepherd loves his work and gladly accepts many sacrifices in order to keep his flock safe and sound.
When Jesus says, therefore, that “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me,” he is assuming that the sheep already know how completely he has earned their trust. The sheep hear his distinctive call and follow him, not just because he is an authority figure in their lives, but because he has been such a good shepherd to them.
This example is, of course, only a metaphor for us Christians who belong to the spiritual flock of Jesus. We are assumed to have experienced his love and to know him so well that we implicitly trust his message as well as his promise of eternal life.
To belong to the spiritual flock of Jesus is to hear his voice. This means much more than simply reading or hearing about him. Such information is always helpful, but the decisive moment comes when we go beyond external testimony and begin to discover Jesus at the center of our lives in a profoundly intuitive and trusting manner.
In the analogy that Jesus uses, we can be sure that the sheep who hear their shepherd’s call do not go through some “rational” process before deciding to respond. On the contrary, there is, ever so gradually, an instinctive and whole-hearted recognition of the call and a total trust in the concern and devotion of the one who has already demonstrated his love and care for them.
In the case of us Christians, this is a spiritual bond that can be stronger than death. As Jesus tells us, nothing and no one can “take them out of my hand.” The only precondition on our part is that we continue to trust the “way of Jesus,” which means that we use our freedom and strength to be a loving, caring presence in our world. We can do this most effectively in the context of a supportive community and with the nourishment of the Eucharist.
When Jesus concludes by making the dramatic claim that “the Father and I are one,” he is not just assuring us of his equal status in the Trinity of divine Persons. Rather, he is confirming that the life that he offers to us is the same life that he shares with the Father. This is made clear when he says, in the context of the Eucharist, “Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me” (6:57). It is divine and unending life that the good shepherd wants for us and we can be sure of having that life if we pass on to others the same selfless love that he has shown to us.
Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B.
Digest of Articles from Catholic Blogs and Websites
April 21, 2013
4th Easter: God Sees His Own and Cares for Them
Revelation 7:9, 14-17
After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.
Predestination, Free Will, and Grace
Predestination, free will, faith and grace are some of the most controversial doctrines in the history of Christianity. Are some destined to accept Christ and others predestined to reject him and go to hell? Does our ultimate salvation depend upon God’s grace or upon our own choices?
What was the response to Jesus’ preaching, according to the New Testament? Some who heard him were impressed; others wanted to push him over a cliff (Luke 4:29). The same was true for Paul and Barnabas during their missionary journeys. They were hailed by some and run out of town by others. Jesus summed it up quite clearly: “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” (Luke 12: 51).
Reflections for Sunday, April 21, 2013
They were … wearing white robes. (Revelation 7:9)
Jesus, I can’t wait to get to heaven and put on my white robe. It’s going to be so exciting, experiencing the greatest victory of my life—and I didn’t even do the hard part. You took care of that for me when you died on the cross!
A Journey Begins: Baptism
The Easter season always gives me a sense of renewal and rejuvenation. Not only is the Catholic celebration of Jesus’ resurrection a central component of our faith, but the Easter season also brings with it a feeling of new life and a spiritual “fresh start”.
Pope Francis Audience: Jesus, the only and eternal Priest
Dear brothers and sisters,
in the Creed, we find the affirmation that Jesus “ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.” The earthly life of Jesus culminates in the event of the Ascension, that is, when he passes from this world to the Father, and is lifted up to His right hand side. What is the significance of this event? What are the consequences for our lives? What does it mean to contemplate Jesus sitting at the right hand of the Father? Let us be guided by the Evangelist Luke.
Doubts, Difficulties and Disobedience
Blessed John Henry Newman wrote, “Ten thousand difficulties do not make one doubt.” What he means is that there is a difference between a doubt and a difficulty. When we start to think through our Catholic faith we would be negligent or stupid not to have some problems. After all, the things we propose as true in the Catholic faith stretch the human mind and heart.
Fighting fear with Fear – A Meditation on the Healing Gift of the Fear of the Lord
In the first reading from yesterday’s (Sunday) liturgy from the Acts of the Apostles (Full text here) we encounter Apostles and see that they are changed men. Prior to Pentecost, these had been frightened man, men who fled at the sight of trouble, en who could not be (except for John) found anywhere near the foot of the Cross. Even after the resurrection, these were men who gathered only behind locked doors “for fear of the Jews.”
The Heroic Minute
Charles Ignatius Meyers: Master of the heroic minute.
This might ring true for a lot of kids, but when I wake my ten month old son, Charlie, up in the morning or even from a nap, he stretches, smiles, rolls over, and is ready to go! In his face I can see the joy and will that he has to learn, explore, and be exactly who God is calling him to be…even though he doesn’t even know it yet.
On Pilgrimage: Giving the Addict His Due
(“The mystery of poverty is that by sharing in it, making ourselves poor in giving to others, we increase our knowledge and belief in love.” -Dorothy Day)
Most of the fine china had been cleared from the white linen-clad dining table. The delicate silver was soaking in a hot soda bath, and the candles had been extinguished. Irish coffee filled the cups of the few guests who remained at the table long after the dinner had ended and all others had taken their leave for the evening.
It’s fine. I’m fine. We’re all fine.
Man is inherently social. He is Aristotle’s “zoon politikon.”
It is with this anthropology in mind that John Paul II affirms, “Man can only find himself in a sincere gift of himself.” It is only outside of his own being that he can find the answer to the Fundamental Question: the purpose of his own existence. Who am I? Why am I?
Well Said: Thanks be to Thee, my Lord Jesus Christ
Recorded at his deathbed. This, to me, seems to be the perfect daily prayer. You may know it as the simplified song from Godspell.
UNDERSTANDING THE CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
The twentieth century is the most critical in the history of Christianity. The decades since 1900 are more than so many years that might just as well apply to any other period of history. They mark the beginning of a new age in human civilization and correspondingly, of the Christian religion.
What does this have to do with our subject, “Understanding the Catechism of the Catholic Church?” Everything. Unless we realize the gravity of the crisis through which the Church is now passing, we shall look on the Catechism of the Catholic Church as just another book, or just another piece of religious literature. Which is not true.
What is Man?
C. S. Lewis once remarked, in a memorable phrase, that he had never met a mere “mortal.” What is a “mortal?” A mortal is someone who dies. It is opposed to someone who is “immortal,” who does not die. Obviously, all human beings are “mortal,” that is, each will die. Lewis meant one thing and implied another. He meant that the soul of each human person was in fact immortal. In that sense, we have never met a “mere mortal.” Each person we chance to meet has this immortality about him.
Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen?
Why would a loving God allow bad things to happen?
The recent tragedy at the Boston Marathon certainly brings this question to the minds of many people. If God really loves us, why does He allow us to suffer? Why does He permit terrorism, child abuse and natural disasters to occur? While the brutally honest and truthful answer is that “He’s God and He knows what He’s doing”, there are a few specific points that can help us to better understand these tragedies. And, quite frankly, understanding them can often make the difference between moving closer to the Lord or turning our backs on Him.
Chaplain gets Medal of Honor 62 years after death
In the cold, barren hills of Korea more than 60 years ago, two teary-eyed soldiers stood in a prisoner of war camp where their chaplain lay dying.
The Rev. Emil Kapaun was weak, his body wracked by pneumonia and dysentery. After six brutal months in the hellish camp, the once sturdy Kansas farmer’s son could take no more. Thousands of soldiers had already died, some starving, others freezing to death. Now the end was near for the chaplain.
What Type of Spiritual Poverty Do You Suffer From?
Most people born in a land flowing with milk and honey (like my husband and children) rarely understand how people struggle to survive in another part of the world.
They don’t know what it’s like to have to collect water from a communal hand pump and bathe in a public, roofless cell without a shower, using a bucket and cup. They can’t fathom how a one-bedroom tropical hut can still be home for a family of 12 without air
Why Confess Sins to a Priest?
When you ask a Protestant one of their biggest objections to the sacrament of confession, they will usually retort that it is against Sacred Scripture to go to a priest to confess your sins, as the forgiveness of sins comes from God alone. Apologists are frequently able to beat back this charge.
Can a Non-Catholic Go To Confession?
Q - Why do you have to be Catholic to be absolved from sin in confession?
A - Thanks for the question. There are only two Sacraments of the Catholic Church that, under normal circumstances, are validly received by non-Catholics.
Jesus’ birth and when Herod the Great *really* died
The Gospel of Matthew tells us that Jesus Christ was born in the final years of the tyrant known as Herod the Great.
He tells us that when Jesus was born, Herod panicked and had all the baby boys in Bethlehem killed.
Fortunately, the Holy Family escaped to Egypt and remained there until Herod was dead.
They didn’t have to stay long, though.
Here’s when Herod the Great actually died . . .
7 clues tell us *precisely* when Jesus died (the year, month, day, and hour revealed)
We recently celebrated Good Friday and Easter, the annual celebrations of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
We all know that this happened in Jerusalem in the first century.
That separates Jesus from mythical pagan deities, who were supposed to live in places or times that none could specify.
Just how specific can we be with the death of Jesus?
Can we determine the exact day?
And here’s how . . .
New Study: Abortion Increases Mental Health Problems
A new study recently appeared in the peer-reviewed Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. The authors of the study sought to discover the answer to the question: “Does abortion reduce the mental health risks of unwanted or unintended pregnancy?”
Not only did they find that abortion does not reduce mental health risks but actually the study indicate that abortion may be a mental health risk.