I want to describe a bird to you and see if you can guess what it is. They have wings and feathers, and they're classified as birds, but they don't fly. Clue number two: unlike most birds, these creatures have their feet at the end of their bodies, not in the middle like other birds. Another clue: this unique arrangement of their feet at the bottom of their bodies enables them to both swim and walk. Are we getting a little closer to the answer? Okay, one more detail: beneath their long and waterproof feathers, there is a thick layer of blubber that allows them to swim in the coldest waters without feeling cold themselves.
Have you figured out who these birds are?
Of course, the bird I'm referring to is the penguin – that peculiar-looking creature with its black and white coat that often resembles a tuxedo. Some even refer to them as "tuxedo birds." You've likely seen pictures of these birds, hundreds or even thousands of them waddling around on glaciers, creating quite a ruckus with their noisy interactions.
Now, an intriguing aspect of the Adélie penguin is their lifelong commitment to a mate. They possess the remarkable ability to locate their partner within a crowd. Imagine a gathering of a thousand penguins, all looking virtually identical, yet the Adélie penguin will unfailingly find its mate. This feat is possible because it can discern the distinct voice of its mate amidst the cacophony of a thousand voices. They identify each other through the unique sounds of their voices, a truly captivating and fascinating trait.
This brings us to a parallel lesson in the Gospel of John, chapter 10, verse 27. Jesus conveyed a similar concept when explaining the relationship between himself and his followers. He declared, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." In this passage, Jesus emphasized that those who follow him can recognize his voice. They distinguish who he is and heed his teachings. In the midst of a world brimming with various voices and noise, Jesus' true followers can discern his voice above the clamor. This discernment is evident through their actions, as they faithfully live out his guidance.
Our modern world is filled with numerous voices, each advocating different ideas and philosophies. Amid this cacophony, Jesus assures us that his true followers can identify his voice and respond to it. This voice, distinct and authentic, guides us toward righteousness, compassion, and purpose. Just as the Adélie penguins listen for and respond to their true partner and guide in the midst of a noisy environment, we too should strive to attune ourselves to Jesus Christ – our ultimate guide amidst life's noise and distractions.
With this perspective, I invite those who may come across this message to reflect: Are you attuned to his voice? He might be calling you to confess your faith and be baptized, to let go of harmful habits or attitudes, or to engage in more sacrificial service. His voice might prompt you to release grudges, hatred, or prejudices. True listening leads to authentic hearing, and responding to his voice brings blessings beyond measure.