Gospel Reflection, Fourth Sunday of Easter, April 30, 2023
Acts of the Apostles 2:14a, 36-41 1 Peter 2:20b-25 John 10:1-10
The human voice can be a very powerful tool for communication, whether used for giving a speech, singing a song, conversing with someone, or merely making a noise. And when we recognize it as the voice of someone we know and respect, it can hold even more power. I will never forget the sound of my father’s voice when, as a boy, I was his “plumbing and heating helper” and he would call out to me for a particular tool or a job he needed help with. I imagine you also have any number of voices you recognize as soon as you hear them say a word - and automatically, you know whether or not you should pay attention to them.
Jesus has a lot to say about the importance of following the right voices in today’s gospel. Speaking about the role of a good shepherd, he says: “the sheep follow him because they recognize his voice.” And at the same moment they recognize it, they follow him because they know it is a voice they can trust.
Come to think of it, the “inner voice” can also be a very powerful tool for communicating. You might recognize the inner voice as the voice of your conscience - your moral compass so to speak. Or it might take the form of a great idea, a revelation - like a light bulb coming on the the middle of a dark room. The inner voice might be a strong intuition, a flash of insight prodding you to act in a specific way. I like to think of that kind of an inner voice as the voice of the Lord, helping me know what to do when I have a challenging situation to navigate or a difficult choice to make. In the words of St. Ignatius of Loyola, it is the voice that gives us a feeling of consolation in the moment…a voice that reassures us that we are really trying to follow God’s lead - really trying to do the right thing…the best thing.
For me, perhaps the most dramatic example of this inner voice was a voice I heard 47 years ago. I had just landed in Los Angeles to join a Christian theater company called The Covenant Players. The first morning of my training I met a young woman named Marilyn. She was full of joy; very enthusiastic about her faith and her desire to evangelize for God by using her acting skills. Almost immediately I thought to myself: “There is something special about this person. I feel drawn to her. I want to get to know her better.” I acted on that inner voice and the rest, as they say “is history”. And a wonderful history it has been, by the grace of God!
That is just one example (albeit a dramatic one) of God’s inner voice at work in my life. I have had many others - and I imagine you have had many others as well. Take some time in the coming days to recall several of them. God is alive and well and speaking to us everyday - in oh so many ways - including that amazing inner voice.
by: Bill Miller