Nobody wants to be a sheep; because sheep are followers. They don’t have their own mind, so we say. To be a sheep is to conform to social norms – to blindly believe in authority – to rely on the comfort of a crutch. These are the very things that make us want to run from religion. Because these are the things that hinder our developing humanity, hinder our developing sense of self.
And yet, our gospel today tells us something different. For Christ uses the symbol of the sheep, not to degrade the human being, but to name that part of our hearts that can tell the difference between the voice of the true shepherd and the voice of a fraud. And unlike goats who are eternal slaves to their own whims, sheep follow the call of the true voice. The human being as sheep means that we become able to hear, discern and know the voice of Christ in us. For His voice is sounding in every human ‘I’, every human heart.
But all too often, we would silence our hearts, ignore the call. All too often we would become goats and distract ourselves by following the voice of our own whims and fantasies, follow where our small selves want to go rather than where He is leading. Or worst of all, we believe the voice of the one in us who concludes that there is no truth speaking in our hearts, that there isn’t even a call to hear.
But nevertheless, the True One speaking in us, calling each one of us by name, He is the Good Shepherd. And He walks in the Spirit before us, leading to the pasture of life giving love.
Dear friends, may we enliven our inner sheep, not by blindly following, but by learning to hear, discern and know the sound of His voice in us.
The contemplation by Rev. Evans is inspired by The Good Shepherd and the true meaning of being sheep.