Each Sunday we are called by a familiar voice, one that we have come to recognize more and more throughout the years. It is the voice of God. And our presence here this morning is evidence that we are listening to him. When the Holy Scriptures are read in the Church it is the Lord himself who is speaking to us personally. Jesus is here as the gate keeper, opening the doors of the Church every Sunday for us so that we may enter in. He is like a good shepherd calling his sheep to follow him. His voice is gentle and sweet and we trust it. But as sheep who sometimes go astray, his voice sometimes becomes firm so as to warn us of dangers. In times of confusion his is an authoritative voice so that we don’t have doubt of what is right or wrong, of what is the true or false. This is so important because there are many other voices out there that speak to our sinful nature and lead us astray. So we have to learn to trust more the voice of the Good Shepherd who speaks to us in varied ways.

The Lord is our shepherd who continues to speak to us through the Church. The Church is the sheepfold, the flock of the Good Shepherd. When we follow the teachings and commands of Jesus he allows us to enter into his flock. We become a part of the Church. Sometimes we don’t agree with the teachings of the Church, like a child who disagrees with mom. But later in life when that child becomes an adult he learns to understand that mom was right. Jesus the Good Shepherd continues to speak through the leaders of the Church, the bishops, and in a special way, the pope. We heard in the first and second readings from St. Peter, who was the first pope. He didn’t replace Jesus but took on his role of being the one clear voice that guided the flock after the Lord returned to Heaven. And every pope after Peter has continued to guide the flock, the Church, and speak with a clear voice so that sheep can hear and follow. That is why the Church has remained one for 2000 years! The more we become familiar with the voice of the pope, the more we hear the voice of the Good Shepherd. But Jesus also speaks to us through the bishops, the teachings of the Church, the words proclaimed in the Holy Scriptures. He even speaks to you through your pastor. His voice speaks to our hearts when we pray. We hear his voice through our conscience in times of temptation. He loves us and will continue to guide us in right paths until we dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come. Do you hear his voice through the many ways he speaks, through the Mass, through the Bible, through prayer, even when he speaks to you through other persons?

Today I remember a voice that I still hear clearly in my head and heart. Hers was a voice of love and kindness which helped me know God’s love. But also a voice of strength and authority that helped me have fear of the Lord. When my mom spoke we, her children, listened! I thank all moms, grand moms, spiritual moms, and godmothers for using your love and strength to help your children hear God’s voice speak to us, sometimes with a whisper and sometimes with a shout, so that our consciences may be well formed and our minds and hearts may know right from wrong and good from evil. Mom’s are like another Christ. In the Gospel, Jesus compares himself to the gate keeper who opens the gate for the sheep to enter the sheepfold. All of us here have entered in the sheepfold of the human race through our moms. She is for us a gate keeper to life in this world, and so whether our relationship with her is good or bad right now, we give thanks to all moms for the gift of life they gave us. God uses mothers to teach us, to love us, nourish us and comfort us. A good mom knows when to be gentle and when to be firm. She brings her children to Mass every Sunday, whether they feel like or not, so that they may learn to recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd. I thank all mom’s for helping your children prepare for First Holy Communion that they will receive next week! Like a good mom who nourishes her children every week with food to help them grow healthy and strong, you will continue to bring them back each Sunday to eat the food from the table of the Lord that will make them healthy and strong in spirit.

And all moms can look to the Mother of God as an example. Mary is like a star that guides us in the night toward the light of the day. Through her, the voice of the Good Shepherd is heard louder and clearer. She gave birth to the savior of the world. She fed him and prepared him for his vocation. And so we pray for more vocations on this World Day of Prayer for Vocations. The type of vocation we are praying for is not the type of job we’ll have after high school or college. These are important and we pray for all of our seniors who have worked so hard to graduate! But life is much more than a job and a pay check. A true vocation is a calling from God. But we can only follow God’s calling for our life if we hear him, if we listen to his voice. He is calling all to a holy way of life: Some through holy matrimony – not living together, but first promising themselves one to another for life and then asking God’s blessing for a faithful and fruitful marriage that lasts forever!

The voice of the Good Shepherd is calling others to follow him as priests, young men who will dedicate their lives to bringing others into the sheepfold, into the Church. Others he will call to be young brides of Christ as religious sisters. All of us play a very important role in helping our youth discern these vocations from God, especially you moms. A mom should never discourage a child from considering the priesthood or religious life. That is wrong. But she should encourage them to listen to the Lord. Even though it meant much sacrifice, Mary always encouraged her Son to follow God’s will. She will help us to hear and follow God’s calling because she is a loving mother who knows our ultimate happiness is not just in having life but having it more abundantly and living it for God. Amen.

Father Timothy Gallagher


St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church
101 South College Street
Cedartown, GA 30125
(770) 748-1517
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