"My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me" (John 10: 27).
One day, walking through a supermarket, a young man keeps following a nice lady around. She ignored him for a while, but when she got to the checkout line, he got in front of her,
"Pardon me," he said. "I'm sorry if I've been staring, but you look just like my mother who died recently."
"I'm sorry for your loss," the lady replied. "Is there anything I can do for you?"
"Well, as I'm leaving, could you just say 'Goodbye, son! Take good care of yourself?' It would make me feel so much better." He gave her a sweet smile.
"Of course I can," the woman promised.
As he gathered his bags and left, she called out,
"Goodbye, son. Take good care of yourself!" just as he had requested, feeling good about what she could do for him.
Stepping up to the counter, she saw that her total was about $100 higher than it should be.
"That amount is wrong," she said. "I only have a few items!"
"Oh, your son said that you would pay for him," explained the clerk.
That was a costly mistake by believing in a “Wrong Voice.”
When David Veale visited Switzerland in 2003, he heard the sound of the church bells. It made him to reflect on the importance of the sacred. He came back to Houston and contacted about 300 Churches with his plan for the Sacred Sounds Project. The next day, these churches rang their bells for five minutes to draw attention away from the bustle of daily existence and onto more sacred thoughts. The sound of the bells is a reminder that there is more to life than what we can achieve with the work and noise of this world. There are many voices in the world trying to get our attention. We have to discern and listen to the right voice, the voice that will lead us to do the right thing.
Long time ago, Adam and Eve listened to a wrong voice speaking to them. Adam and Eve knew God's voice, but they chose not to listen. The serpent asked, "Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?"
Eve answered the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden. It is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, "You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die." But the serpent said to the woman, "You certainly will not die. No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad" (Gen 3:2-5). Adam and Eve listened to the voice of the serpent. The consequence was death.
We are in the same situation like Adam and Eve years ago. The serpent is still tricking us through his agents. For example, today there are voices of pro-life and voices of pro-abortion. Pro-abortion people, however, are hiding their voice behind the shield of pro-choice. Pro-choice sounds less cruel and more attractive than pro-abortion, and many people are being deceived by the sematic meaning of the term pro-choice. It sounds very democratic and “very American.” Sherri Cothrun, a Houston resident and state leader in the abortion-rights movement stated, "We have to keep fighting for our reproductive rights."
This is a wrong voice. Abortion is not reproductive! Abortion is anti-reproductive. Abortion is the choice to kill. No one should have the right to carry out a violent act against an innocent life. Abortion is not an issue of reproductive right. It is a violent act against life and the reproductive responsibility. The abortion supporters are hiding behind the "freedom of choice" to mislead many young people in our society to support their selfish agenda. They do not want to see and accept that abortion is killing innocent human life.
Unfortunately many people are listening to their voice. The media is broadcasting their voice everywhere. It is a shame and disgraced that we have Catholic politicians with 100% record voting for abortion. They are voicing a wrong voice. Their voice is not the voice of the Good Shepherd. They are also not echoing the voice of the Good Shepherd either.
We have heard some Catholics saying, for example, "I am a Catholic businessman but I don't let the Church influence what I do at the office or in the boardroom."
"I am a Catholic politician but I don't let my Catholicism impact how I vote or what legislation I promote."
"I am a Catholic physician but I don't let my faith mold my decisions regarding abortion, contraception or other medical practices."
"I am a Catholic journalist but I don't let the Church inhibit my right to write or say whatever I want to write."
John F. Kennedy’s saying in his 1960’s campaign, “I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for president who happens also to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my church on public matters. And the Church does not speak for me.”
The "Catholic but . . .” syndrome stands in direct contradiction to Jesus' proclamation in the Gospel's reading, "My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. . . No one can take them out of my hand." His sheep belong to him. We belong to Him.
Jesus also declares, “You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world . . . Your light must shine before all so that they may see goodness in your acts and give praise to your heavenly Father” (Mt 5:13-16).
“Whoever acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven. Whoever disowns me before others I will disown before my Father in heaven” (Mt 10:32-33).
"I have made you a light to the Gentiles that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth" (Acts 13:47).
It is so sad that we have people and politicians who claim themselves Catholics but have chosen to speak for the non-believers and on behalf of the non-believers rather than to speak for and on behalf of the Good Shepherd.
We cannot and should not separate faith from life. We are the sheep. Jesus is the Shepherd. He has also entrusted the responsibility of shepherding his sheep to the Church. The sheep listen to the voice of the Shepherd in the field as well as at home. They listen to the Shepherd on the street as well as at the spring. The Church speaks on behalf of Christ, the Good Shepherd. We are Christians at home, Christians at church, and Christians in the world.
Hearing the Voice
A Few years ago, actress Jennifer O'Neill, spokeswoman for the "Silent No More" campaign, speaks out against abortion in front of the U. S. Supreme Court in Washington. She and other women who have had abortions gathered at the court building, carrying the signs, "I Regret My Abortion." It is part of an on-going project to raise the awareness of the harmful effects of abortion on women and families. The Church's teaching is the true voice of the Good Shepherd. If we choose not to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd, we will lose eternal life.
In the first reading, when the Jews refused to listen to the teaching of the Apostles, Paul and Barnabas explained to them that by their rejection to accept the word of God, they have condemned themselves unworthy of eternal life. On the other hand, if we choose to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd, we will receive eternal life in heaven with God and the multitude of the saints. John had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. These people are there because they have listened to the voice of the Shepherd and survived the time of great distress; they will not hunger or thirst anymore.
"My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me" (John 10: 27).
Rev. John Kha Tran