In this weekend’s gospel text for Good Shepherd Sunday, Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice.” Thankfully, for us sheep, this is often a very pleasant and a very consoling experience.
But not always.
There are certain times when the Good Shepherd will also challenge us. There are times he will convict us of our sin. This should not surprise us. A shepherd who truly loves his sheep is concerned for the safety and well-being of each of them. He’s determined to keep the wolves at bay, and guide his flock safely home.
Avoiding the near occasion of sin and following the teachings of the Church on moral matters is what keeps us safely in the fold of the Good Shepherd, and on the road to our eternal home. Along the way it may be unpleasant to hear some of the “hard” teachings of the Church on contemporary moral issues like abortion, contraception and same-sex “marriage.” At times it may be difficult to follow them. But the Lord’s true sheep know that the ultimate source of these teachings is the Good Shepherd himself, so they strive to obey. And if they wander away at some point on the journey, they return to the fold as soon as possible through the gateway of the confessional, knowing that the Shepherd, in his great and overwhelming goodness, will always welcome them back.