The Living Rite column explores what you will see, hear, taste, touch or smell while at church this weekend.
Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them and they follow me.” This is the first line from this Sunday’s Gospel. In the first reading from Acts, the word preached to some Jews was not well-received, so Paul and Barnabas preached to the Gentiles who were very receptive and there were many conversions. While some of their Jewish friends were also converted, overall the word of Jesus was more readily accepted among the Gentiles.
I have often wondered that if Jesus were to come back to earth today, would I recognize or even heed his voice? What we tend to forget is that the eyes and ears of Christ are all around us. If we live a life in service to others, it is there that we will recognize the voice of Christ. We just experienced the greatest of these examples on Holy Thursday when the priest washed the feet of others. In ancient times, the symbolism was not lost on those first witnesses. Most wore sandals or maybe nothing at all on their feet. Proper sanitation was not foremost in people’s minds, not to mention the number of animals that roamed the streets with all the impurities they left behind. So when Jesus kissed and washed the feet of his disciples they were not just dirty, they were filthy.
As we enter our church, we have a chance to re-connect, to hear what is being preached. We can be that Gentile who listens and heeds the good news so that it reflects in all that we do. However that starts by acknowledging God’s presence in the Blessed Sacrament. If that act alone is not part of our worship ritual how can we see God’s presence in those around us? We wash each other’s feet when we assist others to the pews, or help someone find the restrooms or perhaps aid in helping a mother or father with a crying child.
A servant recognizes the needs of others over whatever inconvenience it may cause them – cleaning the ice on the sidewalks, offering our assistance to medical appointments, etc. Today is also called Good Shepherd Sunday, a day not only to recognize our need to hear the voice, but also a day for us to be cognizant of our duty to be the voice to others. That voice is not in platitudes, or fine preaching, but in our actions. It is in being Christ to others.
In today’s world that is very hard to sometimes fathom, especially with the political realm within which we live. Are we hearing the voice of Christ? Can we discern where it is and who is speaking it? It is out there, just not in the obvious places. That is why we need to keep our eyes and ears open to it. That voice will be the one to heed, the one to follow, the Good Shepherd.
Wettstein is a volunteer choir director and former director of music and liturgy at Good Shepherd Parish, Chilton.