Here in this passage from Chapter 10 of John’s Gospel, the season has changed. We have moved from the time of the Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths) just after the harvest to the Feast of the Dedication in winter. We know this celebration today as Hanukkah. The setting is still Jesus at the Temple. And he is still using the theme of the shepherd.
Jesus tells those who are opposing him that they do not hear him because they are not his sheep. So many Jews who have been waiting for the Messiah then reject him when he comes before them. But many Gentiles will hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow him.
As St. John Chrysostom preached about this from Jesus’ perspective, “For I, on my part, have fulfilled all that a Shepherd ought to do, and if you do not follow me, it is not because I am not a shepherd, but because you are not my sheep.”
If we follow Jesus as our shepherd, where and how do we hear his voice?
We hear it in his words in the Gospel. We hear it in the words of his disciples in the other books of the New Testament. We also hear it in the writings of the Church Fathers that provide insight into what was conveyed by Jesus to those around him in what we call the Apostolic Tradition and that complements the New Testament (and Scripture as a whole). And we hear his voice in the teachings of the Church’s Magisterium.
We also hear his voice in our prayer, but only if we are listening. We even hear it in the voices of others who share messages consistent with long-standing Church teaching. But, sometimes, we put our own obstacles in the way of hearing Jesus’ voice. Sometimes, our own grave sin is the obstacle that makes us deaf to the voice of the Shepherd. That is why we have the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
For each of us, how do we allow ourselves to become more receptive and attuned to the voice of the Good Shepherd?