By Fr Israel Quirit
A priest was going to celebrate Mass in Baguio City, a city in the Philippines that is situated 1,500 metres on top of a plateau, where temperatures rarely rise above 27° Celsius.
Afraid he might be running late, he decided to follow a car ahead of him since the road was foggy and dark.
After some time, the car ahead suddenly stopped so the priest tooted his horn (this is totally normal in the Philippines).
He then yelled out to the driver ahead of him, “Keep moving on! Let’s go!” But the driver replied, “Move on? I’m already in my garage!”
In the Gospel of John 10:27-30, Jesus said to His disciples, “The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice”.
A young person once asked me, “Fr Izzy, how should I listen to or discern God’s voice in my life in today’s loud and noisy world?”
Indeed, how do we navigate today’s society without losing sight of God’s call in our lives?
This question reminds me of the GPS app in my car.
It can be time-consuming and confusing trying to locate a place we have never been before, or when we try to navigate the various unfamiliar one-way streets in large cities or familiarise ourselves with various route loops without a GPS device or a map.
A wrong turn could potentially lead to a long detour.
To help us understand how to discern God’s call in today’s busy world, we can draw some wisdom from the GPS examples I’ve mentioned.
Those of us accustomed to using a digital GPS would know that such a navigation system is adaptable, meaning it adapts to changing situations such as road works, traffic jams, detours, and road closures, prompting us to take alternative routes to our destination.
The guidance of Jesus as our Good Shepherd is just the same.
There will be events, moments and situations in our lives that are totally out of our control, making our route difficult to navigate.
But our Good Shepherd helps us to adapt to our changing situations, guiding and making sure we get to the destinations God sets for our lives.
It does not matter how many times we have missed intersections or made some wrong turns, God adapts to our mistakes, changing our routes and encouraging us to “make a U-turn if necessary and when safe to do so” to get us back on track again.
When we take a wrong turn, the GPS voice assistants such as Siri or Hey, Google remain patient and calm.
The GPS never shouts, swears or lose its temper at anyone.
Likewise, our Good Shepherd shows us immense patience when we take a wrong turn, think we know better or change our minds, or simply decide to follow our own way.
When we go wrong, our Good Shepherd patiently guides us back towards the right path.
Most importantly, our GPS device never gives up on us. It always adapts, gently corrects, and patiently guides us to our destination.
In the same way, Jesus our Good Shepherd never gives up on us. He constantly adapts, gently corrects, and patiently guides us to follow the destination He maps out for us.
He also provides us with other shepherds who may come into our lives to inspire and mentor us.
The only danger is that sometimes we stop listening, or we get distracted or switch our GPS device off while on our journey.
Similarly, the only way we can miss out on God’s call in our lives is when we stop listening, stop praying, stop seeking God’s will, or not pay any attention to where our Good Shepherd is leading us. It is when we do this that we end up in someone else’s car garage rather than at our true destination!
So, let us pray for the shepherds in the Church – our Pope, our bishops, and all our priests. Pray that the Lord will help them become more faithful and effective “GPS” (Good Pastoral Shepherds) in their sacramental and pastoral ministry.
Let us also pray that our leaders in government may be imbued with sincere humility and true compassion for the people whom they promise to serve.
More significantly, let us pray for our parents, grandparents, carers and for one another, that we may constantly, patiently, and attentively listen once again to the voice of Jesus as He tells us, “You belong to me. Listen to my voice and allow me to guide you. I know you through and through. Do not be afraid, I am your Good Shepherd”.