Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle C

Fourth Sunday of Easter

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John 10.27-30

“The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice”

The image of Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd, who knows his sheep and who lays down his life for them, is a rich and deeply cherished image, expressing his personal love, care and protection for each of his followers. However, the image of his followers as sheep needs to be treated with care. Those who truly listen to the voice of Christ will hear his personal invitation to “follow me”, but he does not seek the unthinking response of dumb animals. He invites us to follow him with mind as well as heart and soul. It is the vocation of each of us to respond freely and consciously to that invitation.

Whatever our personal state in life, we are each called to live within the realities of this present-day world with the mind and Spirit of Christ. Following Christ does not allow for escapism. Quite the opposite; it means being real about a world in which there is much goodness and unsung heroism, as well as much that is deeply wrong and downright evil. Our Christian vocation is to live responsibly in this many-sided and demanding world, and to do so in conscious partnership with Christ, all the time allowing ourselves to be more perfectly formed by his truth and love.

To those who do listen to the voice of Jesus and who choose to follow him he gives eternal life – a sharing here and now in his own divine life, to be treasured and nurtured here in this world, and to be fully realised in the next. To seek honestly to listen to his voice and respond freely to his invitation is to make a fundamental choice about the sort of person I want to be. And from that fundamental option will flow the countless other decisions and choices in life that make me the person I am and shall be.