April 17, Fourth Sunday of Easter
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Acts 13:14, 43-52
Psalm 100:1-3, 5
2) Revelation 7:9, 14b-17
Gospel: John 10:27-30
While leading a youth ministry retreat on how to hear the voice of God, I presented an activity that involved one person being blindfolded and then challenged to navigate an obstacle course by listening to directions from others in the group. The catch was each group member played a different role.
One person was the calm assuring voice of God — giving the right directions through the course. But the other voices were: a loud voice of chaos yelling random directions, a quiet voice of deception whispering the wrong information, a voice of confusion giving contradictory directions, a voice of flattery complimenting every move made and a voice of disapproval criticizing every move.
The task was for the blindfolded person to listen to the cacophony and distinguish the “voice of God” in order to make it through the obstacle course.
In this week’s Gospel, Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” As with most aspects of living the Christian faith, this is simple but not easy.
As our retreat exercise showed, there are many voices assaulting us, often all at the same time. It can seem almost impossible to decipher which voice is God’s.
There are no short cuts to learning to distinguish the voice of God: It simply is all about exposure. Imagine that you are in a crowd and many people are calling your name, but one of them is your mother. You have heard your mother call your name hundreds of times, so it will be easier to pick out her voice. In the same way, it takes time to learn the voice of God.
We can grow in our ability to recognize God’s voice by reading and meditating on the Scriptures, listening attentively to homilies, sitting in silence to hear God’s voice inside our hearts and by seeking the counsel of trusted spiritual mentors.
The more exposure we have to the truths of God, the more we will know how God would guide us, and this is the key to recognizing his voice. Just as the sheep know the voice of the shepherd, we too need to know the voice of God if we are to follow him.
— Jeff Hedglen
Has there ever been a time when you clearly heard the voice of God? How do you know when you hear the voice of God? What is hardest for you about discerning God’s voice?