4 th Sunday of Easter is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday and is dedicated as a World Day of Prayer for Vocation. In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us, “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them.” And “the sheep follow him because they recognize his voice.” However, there are other voices that are not to be followed, among them those of thieves and outsiders (Cf. John 10, 3-5).
Whose voice do you recognize and follow? Is it the voice of the shepherd that speaks kindly to our conscience or the voice of the stranger that both allures and destroys us? They teach two distinct languages and lead us in two different directions. Do you know the difference between the two voices? It is not simple, as we all know. We are frequently like young Samuel; unaware that he is the one calling (cf. 1 Sam 3, 1-10). How can we differentiate between the inspiration of God and the temptation of evil?
In his spiritual reflection, Pope Francis stated, “The voice of God never forces us: God proposes himself; he does not impose himself, whereas the evil voice seduces, assaults, and presses. God’s voice corrects us with great patience, consoles us, and nourishes hope. While the voice of the evil one leads you to a wall, it backs you into a corner. Another difference is that the voice of the enemy distracts us and wants us to focus on our fears, bitterness, and memories of those who have hurt us. On the other hand, God speaks of encouragement; it inspires and leads us ahead. They also prefer different environments: “The evil chooses darkness and falsehood; the Lord loves light and truth.” (cf. Pope Francisco, Regina Caeli, May 3, 2020).
The Gospel invites us to pay attention to the voices that reach our hearts and ask ourselves where they are coming from. Francisco Palau said in his letter, “Listen deep within the voice of King Solomon” (cf. Letter 1, 3). We allow God to take us by the hand like a good father and lead us where he wants… Whoever trusts in God is well cared for (cf. Letter 56, 1-2). We humbly pray for the grace to discern and heed the voice of the Good Shepherd.
This Sunday is also a day to pray for vocations. Let us join the entire Church in praying “that every man and woman might feel called to arise and go in haste, with hearts on fire” (cf. Message of Pope Francis for the 2023 World Day of Prayer for Vocation). The Good Shepherd knows us very well. He calls us one by one, each by name.