It is the Fourth Sunday of Easter. Last week, we heard the story of Jesus appearing to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. There was a key passage in there for us. It was when the two invited Jesus to stay with them. This is how we are to respond to Jesus' love in our life...invite him to stay with us. If we don't, we will sit in the pew each Sunday, wondering why we don't get anything out of Mass. We become passive and hope for the magic tricks of the sacraments, which will not come because that's not what will happen. We have to actively invite Jesus into our hearts.
This week, we are faced with another call to action. This time it is to listen. We are the sheep, and as the Good Shepherd explains to us, the sheep know his voice and follow him while rejecting the voice of the stranger.
If you ask me, listening is not easy for most Americans. We live in a culture that is designed to fill every minute with some sort of activity. We cannot be quiet. We cannot be still. This will make listening, well, impossible. If we don't listen, how can we respond as the two disciples responded in last week's gospel? How can we actively welcome Christ into our hearts if we cannot listen and hear his call.
Being still is a challenge. It is also an action. It takes conscious effort to be still, to learn how to listen. To quiet our restless hearts while we pray. To be still and know the Lord. How can we hear the Shepher's call if we can't dial out the rest of the cacophony? Do you think the two disciples who broke bread with Christ would have recognized him if their minds were elsewhere? Do you think we will recognize Him if our minds are elsewhere.
A discipline of prayer will lead us to silencing of the mind and heart. Silence leads to stillness and in the stillness of our heart we invite Jesus to be with us and are able to hear and recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd.