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How the Good Shepherd communicates with us

We are the beneficiaries of “instant communication” these days. Email, text messaging, Twitter and Instagram are just a few new ways to communicate nearly immediately. Some folks reading this column might remember what it was like to get a hand-written letter or postcard. An instant message for my generation was a long-distance phone call. Previous generations relied on telegrams. Before that there were smoke signals. 
 
Though it has a place in our lives, instant communication doesn’t mean instantly relating. Some aspects of verbal communication such as the tone of voice, the accent or a purposeful pause just can’t be duplicated in a text message or photograph. The back and forth of dialogue, the human touch seem largely absent in these forms of communicating. The level of sincerity or lack of candor, commitment or deceptiveness might also be hard to understand. And essentially lost is how the message is received, or listened to, which is as important. 
This weekend Jesus offers an image of his communication. He says that he is the Good Shepherd. Not only is he gentle and caring, but he is the one that will lay down his life for his sheep. 
 
That one-to-one relationship between a shepherd and his sheep is most likely not absorbed through Instachats; rather it happens over days, weeks and even months of spending lots of time in the same space. Their communion is refined by hot, dry days and lonely nights, mixed in with a few storms and the occasional hide-and-seek through thorny brambles and craggy outcroppings.
 
By accident or by purpose these are ways in which we build our relationship with the Good Shepherd himself. Creating a time, a place and even a space in our lives to listen to him and to receive him is important. If we do that, we can be assured of his commitment and sincerity, and grow in our trust and love for him.
 
Father William L'Heureux is pastor of St. Lawrence Parish in Silver Creek, St. Rose of Lima Parish in Genoa and St. Peter and Paul Parish in Krakow.

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