The Gospel reading from the 4th Sunday of Easter had many messages for us. Here is the text to jog your memory:
“Jesus said: ‘My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.’” (John 10: 27-30 from the USCCB website)
While there are many nuggets of wisdom we can gain from this simple passage, I was intrigued by the first line, “My sheep hear my voice.” On the surface, I understand that when we are close to God, we know and hear His voice, making it easier to know what is of God.
Then came my brother’s opening day youth baseball game on Saturday, and it popped into my head again.
Anthony Keene pitches for the Oakland Athletics
during the James Mosher Baseball League Opening Day.
We all know that there are tons of distractions at most sports events, just like in life. And during those events, we expect the players, professional or not, to ignore the insults, coaching from the sidelines, and anything else, and still focus their best efforts on the game. But is that fair?
Let’s take my brother’s game – and other youth sports for that matter – as an example of how this really plays out.
As I said, my brother is 12 and plays baseball. In fact, he plays for the James Mosher Baseball League. The league has many teams for kids ages 4-15 in Baltimore. Anthony is a pitcher for the Oakland Athletics. Well he plays other positions as well, but mostly pitcher.
During the games, there are two coaches from the fielding team out to help; one at first base and one at third base. Only one of those coaches gives the pitching instructions. But you would never know that based on the number of parents and spectators who designate themselves as coaching and shout advice from the sidelines. That’s a ton of instruction for a kid to filter through. It’s hard for adults as well.
I asked my brother about this and he admitted that it’s tough to hear his coach’s voice among all of the other voices. In time he’ll learn to filter out the other noise, but that takes practice.
In the same way that my brother has to practice hearing only his coach’s voice, we must also practice filtering out the noise of the world and hearing only God’s voice.
How do we do that? Prayer, meditation, study, and fellowship with the faithful.
Seems easy enough to say, but not easy to do every day. So we take baby steps. We pray and ask questions. We read the Bible and meditate on the message. We find answers to our questions and recharge with mass, the Eucharist and the fellowship of the faithful.
We get to know the voice of God by spending time with God, just as my brother will get to know the voice of his coach better as the season progresses. The same way in which we instantly recognize the voice of our child, our parent, our teacher and vice versa, in the same way we learn to recognize the voice of God.