Being attuned to ‘our sheep’
This year, the gospel for the fourth Sunday of Easter, referred to as ‘Sunday of the Good Shepherd’, coincides with Mother’s Day in the month dedicated to Mary. What message does the Good Shepherd have for us mothers?
“The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice…”. Jesus promised us that those who hear His voice and come to know and trust in Him, He would never let them perish. Look how God has blessed the creatures of this earth—a mother seal can locate her pup amongst thousands of other baby pups on the beach. By calling to it, the pup hears and recognises its mother’s voice, crying out until it is found by its mother.
The same could be said if a human mother and her toddler are accidently separated, that mom would frantically call out to her child and when that child recognises the mother’s voice and cries out to her, she recognises the child’s voice and responds. Oh the joy that mother experiences is something truly amazing! Imagine the joy that the Good Shepherd feels when His sheep call out to Him answering to the call of His voice?
To hear the voice of God is to be attuned to His word and I know that it is sometimes not easy to listen. We get distracted by so many things around us, we focus on getting our point across, ignoring the good voices of others. We fret and worry about perfecting events or whether the ‘pot missing something’, that we miss opportunities to just pause and listen to our Father, be it through the voices of our children, our spouses, our loved ones, or our priests.
How many times have our family members tried to tell us what is happening in their lives and we quickly shut them down because we were too focused on something trivial to recognise that call to listen?
Our Father reminds us that we must always be ready and willing to hear His voice and go when we are called. If we constantly distract ourselves and lose focus, we would miss that call.
As mothers, God has blessed us with some unique traits; we always know by the sound of our children’s cries what they need. In being attune to our sheep (our children), we are then able to offer protection and guidance, display love and affection, and offer wisdom to them with the hopes that whether near or far, they will continue to listen to our voice (the good voice).
Unfortunately, there are children and adults alike, who, because they have no ‘good’ voice to listen to, or are unable to hear the Shepherd’s voice, become victims to extreme physical, mental and emotional pain and abuse, sometimes by their same mothers, caregivers, family members or close relatives. We pray for these victims that they are one day able to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd and find comfort in His voice.
As a child growing up, I remember my mother taking the time to listen and patiently answer all our questions and concerns to the best of her ability, even though she was busy with house chores.
She would always give us her undivided attention letting us know that we could always come to her and speak to her about anything and everything. We felt safe, loved, understood and protected. This is one of the many qualities that my sisters and I have truly emulated and have in turn passed on in our own families.
We must remember that it is not only external listening we are referring to, but also attentive listening as well. We must listen without any distractions to the Word of God, which requires us to read and meditate until we understand, allowing us to fully comprehend God’s word.
Ulrica Cardenas and Juinette Pascall are two mothers of the Pro Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help RC Church, San Fernando.