Since we are the flock of the Lord, the people that He shepherds, we must, like those good sheep, follow Him where He calls us.
In order to follow, we ourselves must be listening to the Good Shepherd, so that we can start to recognize His voice. One way a Christian must practice listening is in our daily prayer. Another is in Mass, especially in Sacred Scripture. Occasionally even the homily might say something useful and we hear Jesus speaking to us. Always, though, we have our conscience:
(Catechism of the Catholic Church) 1776 "Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. . . . His conscience is man's most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths." (GS 16)
1777 Moral conscience, present at the heart of the person, enjoins him at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. It also judges particular choices, approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil. It bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn, and it welcomes the commandments. When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking.
This is the voice of Jesus speaking to you, call it the voice of Truth. God is Truth, so when we see Truth in our minds or our hearts, we must take it as God's voice.
HOOK On Wednesday I sat down for a little television before Fr. Bill and I said our prayers and found a movie my family had watched many times while growing up: Hook. Since the last time I watched Hook was a decade or more ago, I had a much keener sense of the values it was promoting (especially about fatherhood and committment) and I can really approve it even more! This movie retells Peter Pan as a middle-aged man whose children, Jack and Maggie, are kidnapped by the villainous Captain James Hook. As a way to get revenge on Peter Pan, Mr. Hook manipulates his son Jack to forget about his father and see the Captain as his new father. Jack is eventually worn out by the lies and allurements of Captain Hook's methods, and becomes convinced that he is better off in his new situation. It fits beautifully with today's Gospel about the sheep hearing the voice of the shepherd: If we are listening well, we will be able to know the words of the Lord Jesus, the One and Only Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. However, there are other voices out in the world, and we must not let ourselves be deceived. Radio, television, literature, all can be things that give us messages that are very destructive even though we may not notice (just like I didn't notice the value of Hook until re-watching some of it). If we aren't giving ourselves opportunities to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, Jesus, how long can we listen to those lies and allurements (as Jack listened to Hook) before we start to give in to them?
What happened in Boston will probably be seen, when facts are sorted out, as a combination of multiple evil forces and bad choices among many individuals. But certainly a part of it is the corruption of conscience: the Voice of Truth that beckons all of us to do good, avoid evil, and seek truth, was twisted, marred, and abused after listening to lie after lie, again and again. The best way to work against this evil and for good is to try our best to listen for and respond to the voice of Truth in our conscience.
And lastly, let us speak the Truth boldly as well. If our world only hears other voices of lies and distractions, then they will not get very far. We need to help the Good Shepherd's voice of Truth get out there. So speak the Truth and discover the power it has, not from you, but from Him.