This morning I want to talk to you about being called out to do great things. God has a tremendous plan for your life. Even though at times you might feel overwhelmed, like just a person in the crowd, that’s not the end of your story. You might say “Chuck, with so many people in this world, why would God care about me?” No, God cares deeply about you. Every wise choice you make, every temptation you overcome. Your life matters. You are not a number. Jesus, our Good Shepherd, is calling you out to do wonderful things for Him.
It’s like today’s Gospel. They say that in Jerusalem, there was only one sheepfold. If three or four shepherds stopped at one place, all the sheep from all the flocks gathered in one field. There was no branding or marking of the sheep in those days. You or I couldn’t tell one from another.
So, how did the shepherd gather back his sheep?
The sheep recognized their master’s voice. When the shepherd called, they followed. They knew he was leading them to great places.
Of course, they could have ignored the shepherds voice, but then what would have happened? They would have been left behind, choosing to live a life on their own. Trying to figure out food, how to protect themselves, without offspring.
Who would choose that? No, they knew the shepherd was there for them. It was the best decision they could make… not a mindless one.
But it gets even better. Not only did they know the shepherds voice, but he heard them as well.
Jeff Cavins tells the story of when he was a small boy, he had a few older friends who liked to bully him, play tricks on him. One day he was at a house about three doors down, and his friends decided to put up a ladder on a garage roof. And they dared him to climb up the ladder. After they teased him some more about how much of a coward he was, he finally climbed the ladder. When he arrived at the top, they pulled the ladder away.
Stranded, he started screaming as loud as he could “Dad. Dad. Daaaaaaad.” His house was only three doors down, and as it was a spring day, his dad came running as fast as he could. When he arrived, all of the bullies ran. His dad put the ladder back up, made a few phone calls when he got home, and that was the end of Jeff being friends with the bullies.
His dad knew his son’s voice. And the son knew his dad would come as soon as he called out his name. The son was not just a number. His life mattered.
Our responsorial Psalm tells us that “we are his people, the sheep of his flock.” Our second reading tells us the Jesus “will shepherd us and lead them to the springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
God will never leave you stranded on a garage roof. Like in the Prodigal Son, God will come running to be on your side. He is the Good Shepherd.
But it’s not enough be loved… we are called to pay it forward, to go out and love. That’s what sheep can not do. But we can.
This Friday, April 22nd, is Earth Day. And that’s a day that we stop for just a moment and listen as well. We listen to the cry of the oceans, the mountains, the birds of the air, the fish in the sea, plants, vegtables, the air we breath. Our earth is in trouble as well. It’s calling out to us. Friday is a day set aside to remind us to listen. It’s our chance to say ‘thank you’ to God for all the He has given us. It’s a chance for us to be a Good Shepherd as well.
You have been called out to do great things. You are not just another number in this world. Jesus is leading us all today to green pastures and life-giving streams. It’s the power of the Eucharist. It’s the true meaning of the Year of Mercy. It’s the selflessness demanded of Earth Day.
It’s the voice of God.