Listening to the Good Shepherd in a World of Noise
16 Apr 2016
Since childhood one of my favorite images of God is the Good Shepherd who knows each of us intimately. In the gospels we hear, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
It is good to ask ourselves, “Whose voice do I hear and follow?  Can I hear the Good Shepherd’s voice?”
The noise!  Oh, the noise in our world!  Many voices clamor at us and call us to follow them. Sometimes it is easy to listen to other voices and to the noise of the world.  These voices can promise happiness, comfort, and an easier life.  When we feel sad, desolate, and have many problems coming at us all at once, listening to these voices can seem very tempting.
It would do us so much good to hear the Good Shepherd’s voice!  It would do us good to carve out times of silence to hear the Good Shepherd’s words of love for us.  His voice is filled with mercy and tenderness, and we need to hear it!
I believe that our world of noise hinders us from being with God in stillness.  Traffic, airplanes, blaring music, TV and various buzzing electronic gadgets have invaded our lives, our homes, our stores and restaurants, our sidewalks, our cars, and even our meals together.  Our fast-paced world, along with its torrents of noise, words and images, so invades our lives that it can block our ability to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd.
Silent prayer, reflecting on the word of God, and listening to what the Good Shepherd wants to tell us are all so important in our relationship with God. Cultivating silence in our lives is deeply rooted in our Catholic tradition.  In the spiritual classics of the early Church we read about the importance of interior and exterior silence in order to listen to God.  As contemporary men and women, we can ask ourselves:  What it is that guides me during the day?  What am I truly seeking in my life?
“Be still and know that I am God,” we read in Psalm 46.   How can we be still?  How can we make room for silence in our busy lives? How can we shut off the noise, within and without, so that we listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd?
It is important to include silence in your daily schedule and prayer. I know that if I don’t schedule something, it doesn’t happen. That is why I try to deliberately schedule times throughout the day where I shut off my phone, music, or computer and pray in silence. When I have a long drive, I try to turn off the radio in the car and be in silence for part of the drive.  When I get up in the morning I try to be in silence and avoid the temptation to turn on the radio or the TV.  Phones, computers, TVs and music are not bad, but do we need noise the entire day?
It is also important to have a quiet, calm place where God can speak to us. A place of silence can help us still our minds and hearts so that we can simply listen.  This can be a room in the basement, a park, a church or an adoration chapel.
So do I listen to the Good Shepherd’s voice?  This is a question that can bring us to prayer, and to a closer attentiveness to the Good Shepherd who walks with us, guides us, and leads us in verdant pastures of stillness and quiet.