“My Sheep know my voice – I know them, and they follow me.”
Before we can really understand this phrase, we gotta answer one very important question…who are the sheep in this passage? We just heard it in the psalm, ‘We are His people, the sheep of His flock’. Hopefully, it’s you and me. Hopefully, every one of us can say that WE recognize the voice of Jesus and we follow him.
But is it true? Do we recognize Jesus’ voice?
Most of us are sitting here thinking – well – I dunno – he doesn’t talk to me really, so how would I recognize his voice? Isn’t that what we’re all thinking?
Tom is a taxi driver in Phoenix. About a year ago, he got called to pick up a lady and he got tied up in traffic and got there about 30 minutes late. She was ticked off…and she let him know it. She was rude and tried to make him feel bad. Now – most taxi drivers would simply say a few choice words right back and never give it another thought. However, for the next 6 months, this lady called for a cab the same time every Tuesday afternoon – and EVERY time, Tom got the call. He was always professional, trying to make pleasant conversation – but the lady just kept up her sour attitude. Tom got to wondering if the reason for her mood might not be HIM at all – but maybe it has something to do with the fact that he was dropping her off at the Kidney Treatment Center, so the next time, he asked her – and she reluctantly shared some details that she was on dialysis and was hoping for a kidney transplant – but all of her family members had already died. So Tom said – what’s it take to donate a kidney…could I give you mine? Yeah, right…she thought… She thought it was a sick joke, but then realized he was serious. I mean – even though the odds of him being a match are astronomical, just the fact that he would seriously CONSIDER it touched her heart. Her attitude toward him started to warm as she realized she had been unjustly rude to this man. Tom went in the next day and got tested and to everyone’s surprise, he was a perfect match. They said he couldn’t have been a closer match if they had been brother and sister. So – the surgery got scheduled – and the TV news picked up the story and it broadcast around the country just a few months ago. Tom said he didn’t really see himself as anything special. God just me it was the right thing to do, so I did it. He didn’t expect anything in return…which made the next thing even more of a surprise. Tom had a daughter living in Kentucky whom he hadn’t seen in 30 years. She had run away from home, and they lost track of each other. But she saw Tom on the news and called him up immediately. Wow – what a blessing from God! Not only that, but his cab company has agreed to pay him during his recuperation – and the employees took up a collection so he can fly to see his daughter in KY. Though he had asked for nothing in return, This man got his family back ….and all he had to do was listen to God’s voice and follow him.
Do you and I recognize God’s voice in our own lives? He IS speaking, you know…we just have to tune our ears to hear it.
For example, as I was writing this homily, I said – “I need a good real-life story about listening to God to include in my homily”. That very evening, my prayer was answered: I heard the story of Tom the taxi driver on my drive home. If you ask, me, THAT is an answer to a prayer. But God wasn’t done yet…The next morning, a co-worker stepped into my office and started telling me all the awesome things that God is doing in His life! I wish I could share the details, but basically, he and his wife were having some rough times, but they both made a retreat recently and have both decided to start listening to God and following His way. He said his marriage has turned around – they feel like they’re teen-agers dating again! Wow – who wouldn’t want that kind of Love in their marriage? And all he had to do was listen to God and follow.
Now…I know what you’re thinking… Mike – maybe Tom hears God and maybe this other guy hears God…but I don’t hear God talking to me. Are you sure about that? Are we remembering to listen? To Ask God to speak? Remember the journals – our little notebooks - for us to collect our One Thing? You all know the question – say it with me: “God, show me one way in this Mass I can be a better person this week. “ How many of us actually ASK that question when we come into church? I admit I even forget quite often, so I’m preaching to myself…but Somehow, we have to TRAIN ourselves to seek the voice of God.
Have you seen one commercial on TV where the guy walks into the kitchen with a winter coat on and sets a can of green beans on the counter next to his wife and says, I got the beans you wanted! She just turns around and gives him ‘the look’…you know, the look….I can’t do it as good as she did – but she says one word, CORN. The guy stands there for a second then starts to put his coat back on because he KNOWS he’s headed back to the store, and he says, Corn…..I gotta start making a list.
Guys – can you relate? I know I do. There’s something about the way men and women communicate that is a constant struggle for many of us. This is a generalization, but it seems like Men tend to cut to the chase – just give me the facts…but for women, it’s all about the details. You ask a woman how her day was, and you may as well sit down, because you’re going to hear about every person she saw, what they talked about, what they ate while they were talking…. But you ask a Man how his day was, he’ll say: “Fine”. Or – if he’s REALLY feeling talkative and TRYING to SHARE his feelings, he’ll say, “I had a good day…got a lot accomplished…gee, I feel hungry!” Seriously, why don’t we remember what our wives tell us? I think it’s “selective hearing”. We hear everything she’s telling us, it’s all going in this ear - but our “man’s” mind automatically tries to glean out the important stuff. In that process of gleaning, some important details get lost….like: I remember I’m supposed to go to the store, but I have no idea why I’m there: Corn.
I think we do the same thing with God. He is constantly speaking to us, but we have “selective hearing”. He’s telling us to …well, I don’t really have to tell you what he’s telling us…you already know. Our conscience is our guide. We know we shouldn’t be doing this or that. We know we SHOULD be doing this other thing….but. There’s that word – BUT. IF We KNOW we should be doing something,…THAT is God telling us to do it….but we want to stick that word ‘but’ after everything God tells us to do. I know I do it… I know I shouldn’t cut grass on Sunday, but…. I know I should spend more time with my wife, but…. I know I should really sing along in church, but…. I know I should be doing my homework, but… our ‘buts’ get in the way!
We have an amazing capacity to deceive ourselves. When God tells us something, we make excuses and choose to ignore it, because we know better than God!
Oh – and after we throw buts around, Then we say – God isn’t speaking to ME. Well – maybe the reason he’s not speaking to me is because I’ve refused to listen to what he told me. He’s speaking, I just ain’t listening!
Our challenge for the week - should be obvious by now: Try – really try – to hear the voice of God in our lives. Pray that prayer today and every day – God show me one way in this Mass I can be a better person this week. This journal is just supposed to be our training wheels…because for some reason, it’s easier to hear God speaking in Church…here in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. But he’s speaking to us ALL the time. We gotta train ourselves to ask him the questions: God – I’m having trouble with this problem: what do you think I should do? God – this person is really hurting me - how do you think I should handle it? Then – when God answers – and you know He will – recognize who it is. Then – like Tom the taxi driver, we’ll be able to say, “God told me it was the right thing to do…so I did it”.