“He walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice” (John 10:4).

May 7: Fourth Sunday of Easter

Cycle A. Readings:

1) Acts 2:14a, 36-41

Psalm 23:1-6

2) 1 Peter 2:20b-25

Gospel: John 10:1-10

Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service

I clearly remember Captain Picard from “Star Trek: The Next Generation” looking at a contraption on a wall and saying, “Tea, Earl Grey, hot.” The machine would beep, then magically a steaming mug of tea would appear on a shelf. The first time I saw this, I was amazed that all he had to do was say what he wanted and it appeared. Now, voice recognition software is a part of most smartphones and many computers.

If I push a button on my phone and say, “my hot wife,” a few seconds later I am speaking to my wife. I can also say, “Play Beatles,” and the next thing you know my phone is playing music. Sometimes modern technology really blows my mind.

But voice recognition software is not a new thing. It is built into our DNA. We know some people’s voices so well that we do not need caller ID to tell us who is on the other end of a phone call. Yet, there are many more people whose voices we could not pick out if our lives depended on it.

The most important use of voice recognition is the theme of today’s Gospel. Jesus says the Good Shepherd walks ahead of his sheep, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. Hearing the voice of God is simple, but it is not easy.

It is simple because it is no different from recognizing the voice of a friend. The more we get to know a person, and the more time we spend with that person, the easier it is to distinguish that friend’s voice.

The difficulty comes in that we do not get to hear God’s voice with our ears. Another complication is that the best way to learn to recognize his voice is to study his word. This takes time and effort, but if we learn the way he speaks in the Bible, we will learn to differentiate among the voices we may hear in our mind.

There are three possible voices in our head: God’s, ours and the voice of the world. Each one is vying for our attention, but it is the voice of God that is calling us forward all the way to the green pastures of heaven.

QUESTIONS: Was there ever a time when you clearly heard the voice of God? What was that like? What are some obstacles to hearing the voice of God? How can we overcome them?