For a few years now, I have lived on what many would call a “hobby farm.” Many different animal sounds can be heard from any window in our house.
On the north side, you can hear our dogs running, playing, growling, howling—enjoying themselves clearly, but forewarning any wolves or bears that might want to wander onto our property.
On the west side, you can hear our miniature goats causing a ruckus, as goats normally do, yet they are always at the ready should you need milk or simply the company of their calming presence.
But perhaps loudest are the birds.
Even without opening a window, you can clearly hear the roosters in the morning, or the excitement of the ducks when they find their small pool of water mid-day. Oh yes, and the guinea fowl, interesting and yet terrifying creatures (at least to me), whose shriek you can always hear when they think something is amiss.
For all of this, the geese are still the loudest.
Beautiful as they seem to those who first visit, the geese are by far the most contentious and unfriendly. It’s true, you can hear them no matter where you are on our property, not because they are sending out melodious tunes for all to enjoy, but because they have found yet another thing to fight over or another creature to set right who has dared cross their path.
And you know, this got me thinking.
Aren’t there quite a few parallels here to our own Church today?
For those who look on, who are curious about the vineyard across the way, we send out quite mixed messages as our voices rise and fall.
Some of those voices are soft and gentle, urging others to consider waking up here day in and day out.
Some are sending out warnings, that this is our space and no one else’s. Some see danger even when there isn’t any, and of course (perhaps the loudest of all), are the voices who always seem to have another of the flock positioned perfectly within their scope.
What message do we want to send the world?
I believe every Catholic needs to choose. But before we do, it might be helpful to read the New Testament once again.
Because for all of Jesus’ warnings and admonitions—for all of the challenges He poses to each one of us—there can still be no doubt that at the heart of it all is a message of hope and love.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only beloved Son.”
That was the call. That is the Good News.
I pray that the people of today hear it loud and clear from your windows.