Good Shepherd Sunday

Angelus Reflection by Pope Francis

The fourth Sunday of Easter, which we celebrate today, is dedicated to Jesus the Good Shepherd. The Gospel says: “The sheep listen to his voice : he calls his sheep, each by name” ( Jn 10 : 3). The Lord calls us by name, calls us because he loves us. However, the Gospel says, there are other voices not to be followed: those of strangers, thieves and robbers who want the evil of the sheep.

These different voices resonate within us. There is the voice of God, who kindly speaks to conscience, and there is the tempting voice that leads to evil. How can we recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd from that of the thief, how can we distinguish the inspiration of God from the suggestion of the evil one? You can learn to discern these two voices: in fact they speak two different languages, that is, they have opposite ways to knock on our heart. They speak different languages. As we know how to distinguish one language from another, we can also distinguish the voice of God and the voice of the evil one. The voice of God never obliges: God proposes himself , he does not impose himself. Instead the bad voice seduces, assails, forces: it arouses dazzling illusions, tempting but passing emotions. At first it coaxes, makes us believe that we are omnipotent, but then leaves us with emptiness inside and accuses us: “You are worth nothing”. The voice of God, on the other hand, corrects us, with much patience, but always encourages us, consoles us: it always nourishes hope. The voice of God is a voice that has a horizon, instead the voice of the bad guy takes you to a wall, takes you to the corner.

Another difference. The voice of the enemy distracts from the present and wants us to focus on the fears of the future or on the sadness of the past – the enemy does not want the present -: it brings back the bitterness, the memories of the wrongs suffered, of those who hurt us …, many bad memories. Instead the voice of God speaks in the present: “Now you can do good, now you can exercise the creativity of love, now you can give up the regrets and remorse that hold your heart prisoner”. It animates us, carries us forward, but speaks to the present: now.

Again: the two voices raise different questions in us. What comes from God will be: “What is good for me?”. Instead the tempter will insist on another question: “What do I want to do?”. What do I want: the bad voice always revolves around the self, its drives, its needs, everything and immediately . It’s like children’s whims: everything and now. The voice of God, however, never promises joy at low prices: it invites us to go beyond our selves to find true good, peace. Remember: evil never gives peace, puts frenzy before and leaves bitterness after. This is the style of evil.

Finally, the voice of God and that of the tempter speak in different “environments”: the enemy prefers darkness, falsehood, gossip; the Lord loves sunlight, truth, sincere transparency. The enemy will say to us: “Close yourself, so nobody understands you and listens to you, don’t trust!”. On the contrary, the good invites us to open up, to be clear and confident in God and in others. Dear brothers and sisters, in this time many thoughts and concerns lead us to re-enter ourselves. We pay attention to the voices that reach our heart. Let’s ask where they come from. We ask for the grace to recognize and follow the voice of the Good Shepherd, who brings us out of the precincts of selfishness and leads us to the pastures of true freedom. Our Lady, Mother of the Good Council, guide and accompany our discernment.

World Day of Prayer for Vocations is celebrated today . Christian existence is always and always a response to the call of God, in any state of life. This Day reminds us of what Jesus said one day, namely that the field of the Kingdom of God requires a lot of work, and we must pray to the Father to send workers to work in his field (cf. Mt 9 : 37-38). Priesthood and consecrated life require courage and perseverance; and without prayer we cannot go on this path. I invite everyone to invoke from the Lord the gift of good workers for his Kingdom, with the heart and hands available to his love.