Sunday, April 25, 2010

What Jesus' voice means

The Good Shepherd
Sunday, April 25, 2010
John 10:27-30

Once on a brief trip to Barcelona, I was strolling along the famous Las Ramblas strip one chilly morning. I craved for a hot cup of coffee so I ducked into a small cafeteria which was the only one open in those early hours. In my fractured Spanish, I tried explain to the only waitress around that I wanted a hot cup of brewed coffee with no cream. She replied in a rapid stream of Catalan, and it was evident that she didn't quite understand my simple order. As I tried to explain again rather futilely, a sudden understanding seemed to dawn upon her as she inquired: "Teka, Pilipino ka?". It turned out she was a compatriot, and must have noticed my quaint intonation. In a very short while, I had my steaming café caliente, plus some hot buns on the house.

Of the many distinctions in the human body, the larynx is quite notable in that equips each one of us with distinctive voices and intonations. The larynx is not confined to humans as animals also possess it in their anatomy, although only the human voice has the versatility in producing a rich variety of tones and pitches in varying modulations. Humans can even mimic the sounds of birds and animals but the reverse is not true, except perhaps in a limited way for some breeds of birds. That makes human voices superior among living things. Knowing this, a guy once taunted a talking mynah: "Hey stupid parrot! Can you talk ha? ha? c'mon show me".. The bird replied: "Who's stupid? Of course I can talk, but can you fly?".

Our voices also appear to be unique for each individual. Some years ago, I attended a Letran high school reunion party. Most of us haven't seen each other in 25 years. I had a very hard time recognizing faces, as many of us had radically changed appearances, especially in the hair and waistline departments. It's amazing how people have changed, more so when you compare with their old yearbook photos. The funny thing about it is that their raucous voices sounded the same after all those years. Although I had difficulty in recognizing their appearances, I found out that I could recall them when I paid attention to their voices.

In today's Gospel Jesus said: "My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me.". Too bad there weren't any audio recording devices in those biblical times. I imagine the Good Shepherd's voice must be a booming, rich baritone as depicted so often in the movies. As the shepherd tends to hundreds of sheep, his voice must be clearly heard even by the farthest one in the flock. In our own reality, Jesus' voice is expressed in soft and subtle ways, but it can be quite clear if we pay enough attention. Sometimes it can be a child crying. A plea for help. A call to serve. An unexpected blessing. An answered prayer. The Good Shepherd speaks to us in many ways, and we should be able to understand what His voice means.

It means Love, and it never changes.

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