Hearing the Voice of the Shepherd
Discerning how to hear the Lord
Hearing the Voice of the Shepherd
Jesus says to us:
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (Jn 10:27-28)
He is the Good Shepherd and we the sheep of His flock. He desires to give us eternal life - to be with us forever in Heaven. But this requires that we know the voice of the Shepherd and follow Him. What does this mean? How can we hear Jesus?
An Audible Voice
Most of the time, Jesus does not speak to us in an audible voice. We do not hear Him with our ears directly. However, this has happened in the past, and I am certain that Jesus has done this through dreams. But this sort of private revelation is rare.
Another way that we can connect and reconnect with Jesus is through mental prayer. We quiet our minds, acknowledge where we are in that moment spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Then we tell Jesus everything that is on our hearts; we relate what is going on in our lives, knowing that He cares and delights in us. Then, in the stillness, we allow God to speak to us in His own way. We receive what He wants to give us, whether it is peace, grace, or the tools to overcome concrete circumstances. Finally, we respond with gratitude to what God has shared with us. Each and every person is different and our relationship with God is likewise unique. But this way of praying can certainly be helpful: Acknowledge, Relate, Receive, Respond (ARRR). Give it a try next time you are in a quiet place (especially in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament).
Community and Worship
The word church comes from the Greek word ecclesia means the called-out assembly. We are gathered together around the altar of the Lord to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as the Mystical Body of Christ. Especially by the engagement of our senses, the Holy Mass allows us to receive what God desires for our sanctification while we worship Him and glorify Him.
Then, we are sent forth to be Christ’s hands and feet. We are called to be in community with others. Through this community, we can hear the voice of Jesus in the inspired words of our brothers and sisters in Christ. We can hear the voice of Jesus prompting us, perhaps, to speak up and to act in charity.
The written word of God in Sacred Scripture is a place of encounter with our Lord. God is the primary author of the 73 books of the Bible, the human author is secondary. The inspired text allows us to receive what God has revealed and enter into a meditative dialogue with it. We are not called to interpret Scripture - that task belongs to the Church Herself. Instead, we are called to apply the word of Sacred Scripture to the concrete realities of our lives.
We are guided into truth by the Holy Spirit who we received in Baptism. The Holy Spirit points us to Jesus and helps us recognize the voice of Jesus. Oftentimes, we might come before the Lord in prayer and ask for direction and then expect a full-fledged answer and plan. That can happen. But most of the time, it does not. Instead we are given the grace to actively discern. When we live our lives and practically discern, we are developing a deepening sensitivity and docility to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. As we continue to grow in our relationship with Him, we become better at making the adjustments that we need to pursue what God desires for our lives.
Remember and Trust
No matter how we come to hear the voice of Jesus, it is important to rest in Him. We must remember His kindness, mercy, gentleness, and faithfulness. God never leaves His people abandoned. He never lets us perish or let the evil one steal us away. As we hear earlier in John Chapter 10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” This abundant life is all around us and God is so good. Even in the darkest times, He is with us. We must look back and discern where He was present. We must remember how He was with us. In turn, we should respond with gratitude and ever greater trust.
Jesus, I trust in You. Help me hear your Voice. Amen.
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