Fourth Sunday of Easter – 30 April 2023

Jesus calls Himself “The Good Shepherd” and says that those who are His sheep listen to His voice. Hopefully we all want to be included among that flock, which means we need to consider how we should listen to His voice. The reality is, in the modern world, that that involves learning what not to listen to just as much as learning what we should, to block out the noise.

We all have many influences in our lives and in our thinking. Some of those will be good and holy influences and some of those will be dangerous and ultimately destructive influences. Some of them are fairly obviously damaging, others are more subtle. Some of the most insidious are those that tempt us to short cuts. We see that in the secular world – the short cut to wealth (by ignoring the law or our obligations to others) or the short cut to supposed happiness (through an obsessive seeking for pleasure.)

There are lots of short cuts in all aspects of our lives, lots of ways over the fence, but they all amount to the same thing. They are all, in the end, a mistake. They don’t provide the safety of the fold, and they don’t lead to the rich pastures outside the gate to which the shepherd leads.

Another by which we’re all tempted is some kind of following of fashion. There are fashions in clothing, in music, in art and in architecture, but there are also fashions in the way people think and act. We can take a short cut in our striving to live the good life and in seeking the truth by following what is current, by being thoroughly modern, or post-modern or whatever it is we’re supposed to be nowadays. What is new seems exciting, daring, adventurous.

But we all know how ultimately unsatisfactory that is. Just as last season’s highly-fashionable clothes just look silly this season, so fashions in lifestyles change and things that our parents’ generation thought were absolutely de rigueur look quaint and silly to us. We forget, often, that those fashionable things which we allow to influence us will presumably look just as silly to the next generation. And if we’re honest, we can see that some of the influences in our lives are shallow and modish, that they couldn’t really make us happy.

Neither short cuts nor fashions are going to provide true happiness. So we need an equivalent to noise-cancelling headphones, that will block out those distractions and allow us to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. Does such a product exist? Yes, and it even has the advantage of being free! It is prayer. It may sound obvious and mundane, but any sound financial adviser will point out that the best roads to financial security are often the boring ones. So the way to secure our happiness is to find the time to pray. Because prayer won’t offer any short cuts, and it certainly won’t be fashionable. But it will help us to hear the voice of the Shepherd.

Fr Chris Denham

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email