This year’s feast of the Resurrection was a bit different for me. Usually I’m all dressed up, attending church with my family, going through the typical liturgical motions, distracted by my kids. But this year God blessed us with a beautiful little girl born during Holy Week, so I was home with her. I instead opened my Bible to the gospel reading of the feast, and though it was one I’ve read many times before, something unique stood out to me this time.
“Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).”
Just like that, with one word, she recognized Him! He called her by name, and immediately she saw who He truly was. It reminded me of this beautiful verse from Isaiah:
“But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.’”
Then it made me wonder; would I recognize Him by his voice the way Mary Magdalen did? There is no doubt about Him calling us constantly. The real question is, do we hear Him?
Maybe some of us are still babes in the faith and won’t recognize His voice right away, like Samuel when he was a boy, and that’s okay. When Samuel first heard the voice of the Lord call him as a young child, he didn’t realize who it was that called him. He ran to Eli, his priest, and it was through Eli’s guidance that Samuel was able to rightly respond, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” (Samuel 3:10)
We might not always be able to decipher God’s voice in our life, or discern what He is trying to tell us. That is why God has placed us in communities with others who are far wiser than us, those who can serve as mentors and offer spiritual guidance. They can help us train our hearts to pick up on God’s voice.
It is also our faithfulness to God and His word that tunes our ears to hear Him. Christ said the following in John 102-4:
“But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.”
Sheep are surely not the smartest creatures. Lambs (baby sheep) need to be nursed out of a baby bottle, they are quite helpless on their own. Christ definitely got the metaphor right when He compared us to them.
Why not compare us to a smarter animal that survives on their own, one that is wise and resourceful? A lamb/sheep heavily depends on its shepherd, and it would be lost with him. The same way Christ tells us, “without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Notice how He doesn’t say, “without me you can do little,” or “without me you cannot do as much.” It is clear that we cannot do anything without abiding in Him.
Let us all reflect and ask ourselves some hard questions. Are we abiding in Him? Are we able to recognize His voice if He calls us? Are we willing to do what He asks of us, no matter how big or small?
He could simply be asking us to get closer to Him. May we be able to respond to His call through His grace and the blessing of the Holy 50 joyous days.