Today's familiar Gospel, an echo from Sunday's Good Shepherd reading, reminds us of the Lord's tender care for us ... but it also reminds us of a deeper truth: why we do follow this divine herdsman.
My sheep hear my voice; I know them and they follow me. How many of us have been in a supermarket and heard a child yell, "MOM!" While every maternal ear in the store perks up, only one stomach drops. It may have come from three aisles away but the resounding cry for "MOM" is recognized. A mother knows her child's voice when she hears it -- even as far away as the cereal aisle may be from the frozen food section.
We cannot love what we do not know. If we believe that the Lord knew us before we were knit together in our mother's womb then we can ponder with awe how much more sensitively the Lord can know us and how much more tenderly he can love us. This Good Shepherd who calls out to us, whose voice we hear, is one who knows us and loves us deeply. Just as the well-trained ear of a mother knows her offspring's cry of distress, how much more sensitively will the ear of the Lord's heart be listening to the cry of his children in distress.
We are known by this Good Shepherd; we are loved. My very self you knew ... when I was being formed in secret (Ps. 139). It's no wonder we follow.
"As a holy shepherd he feeds me, his dear sheep, amidst the lilies of his perfections, in which I take pleasure; and I, his dear sheep, feed him with the milk of my affections, by which I strive to please him."
St. Francis de Sales