IV SUNDAY OF EASTER
acts 2:14a, 36-41; 1 peter 2:20b-25; john 10:1-10
a native american and his friend were walking in midtown new york. decibel levels were deafeningly high… people chatting, vehicles moving, and horns honking.
suddenly, the native american said: «i hear a cricket.» his friend said: «what! you’re crazy. you couldn’t possibly hear a cricket in all this noise!»
the native american insisted that he had heard a cricket. he listened carefully, walked across the street to a big plant, looked under the branches and… found a cricket.
his friend was stunned: «that’s incredible! you must have superhuman ears!» the native american said: «my ears aren’t different from yours. it depends on what you’re listening for. my ears are attuned to natural sounds. let me demonstrate.»
he pulled out a few coins from his pocket, and dropped them on the sidewalk. every head within twenty feet turned to see if the money that had tinkled on the pavement was theirs!
«see what i mean!» said the native american. «it depends on what’s important to you.»
today’s liturgy highlights the importance of having ears attuned to GOD and his word.
the gospel has two parables. in the first, the imagery is of a sheepfold into which the shepherd and a prowler seek to enter. the second parable concerns the relationship between the sheep and the shepherd, and between the sheep and a stranger.
the first parable is a challenge to israel’s religious authorities: will they listen to and heed jesus’ message? jesus can offer no external credentials for his authority; in the second parable, a small group respond in faith to his message because they hear in it the authentic voice of GOD.
both parables make the same point: jesus provides his people his word and sacraments, and gives them abundant life… provided they listen to him.
the first reading portrays the second parable! the people listen to peter’s admonishment. «they were cut to the heart», and ask what they must do. they again heed peter’s voice: they repent and are saved.
if jesus and his word are important for us, we will hear him above the bustle of our lives, above the noise of consumerism and materialism. if our ears are attuned to power, prestige and pleasure, we will hear those.
the quality of our life indicates to what our ears are attuned! if we do not live «abundantly», we are listening to and following not the shepherd but a stranger.
whom do i follow? to whom/what do i listen? do i still hear the shepherd?