Fourth Sunday of Easter – Year C

Robert P. Hagan, O.S.A.
Villanova University

Acts 13: 14, 43-52
Ps 100: 1-2, 3, 5
Rev 7: 9, 14-17
John 10: 27-30

It will be known forever by Villanova University Basketball fans around the world as “The Shot.” With 4.7 seconds left and the score tied, Kris Jenkins did a one step, two step, and let it fly from just inside half court, sending the ball perfectly through the rim as well as sending Villanova University into the record books as 2016 NCAA Champions!

Yet, before the shot, there was “the pass.” Kris inbounded the ball to Ryan Arcidiacono, who dribbled all the way up and across half court. Kris followed all along on his outside shoulder calling: “Ryan! Ryan! Ryan!” Then when the double team came, in spite of 75,000 screaming fans, and all of the noise, he heard his name called, and made the unselfish pass to an open Kris Jenkins. The rest, as they say, is history.

There are times in all of our lives when our name is called…when there is a word meant specifically for us…to get our attention. This voice calls for a response, calls for an action on our part and can alter the course of history.

God is that voice! Jesus is that voice and the gospel this Sunday encourages all of us to listen to that voice and follow where ever it leads us. “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish.”

The word gospel literally translates to mean good news. God has sent good news to all of us through his son and our shepherd Jesus Christ. His is a reassuring voice. A voice of wisdom.  A healing voice. This voice, this call is only effective when it is heard. Too often I have missed this loving voice of God because of all the other noise in my life; all the other voices in my head.

How many times have I paid attention to voices of negativity from others: “You won’t be good at that… We tried that, it never works….You’re not smart enough…Take the short cut…Make sure you get yours.”

Maybe they are voices in my own head that say: “I’m not good enough…I can’t make it anymore…It really doesn’t matter… I’m too tired.”

Maybe there are voices of distraction with so much technology in my life that there is no time or space to listen to any other words that don’t come from Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

If we have not heard the voice of God, maybe we need to tune into a new station or reset our antennae, or shut out some of the noise and re-open our ears… Maybe we have hit a fork in the road in life… Maybe there are some decisions that have to be made. Maybe we are suffering a loss of some kind and the voices we have been listening to are not helpful, not uplifting, not inspiring

It is time to remember that there is another voice out there. God is on our outside shoulder always running up the court next to us… calling us: “My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me.”

Maybe it’s time for me to take a walk, say a rosary, talk to a trusted friend, turn off the TV, or simply sit with God in silence, and trust that the good shepherd does and will speak to me in the stillness of my heart.

There is a loving voice with a word specifically for you from God. A God who says clearly: I forgive you…I have plans for you…I will never abandon you…I sent my son to help you…With every cross there is a resurrection…I will love you forever!

Saint Augustine prayed in his Confessions: “Lord, I went astray and then I remembered you. I heard your voice behind me calling me to return. Now I return to your fountain with excitement and desire.”

On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations we thank God for those who have heard and answered the call to priesthood and religious life. We are grateful to a God who speaks to all of us. We thank God for all those who have listened to the voice of Jesus in their heart, “returned to the fountain,” and discovered the life changing word of God.

Let us all take inspiration from this gospel, and work this week with the grace of God to shut out some of the other voices and noise in our life. Let’s trust that we will really hear what God is saying to us… Then respond…take your shot and watch history change before your eyes!