How attuned are you to Christ’s voice? How closely do you listen for it? Can you recognize it as a sheep would recognize a shepherd’s voice? What could you do to improve how well you listen? Do you need a good book, or just some peace and quiet? Do you need a ritual, like lighting a candle? Do you need other people, a prayer group? Do you need a husband or wife? Do you pray with children or grandchildren?

Jesus is not asking for perfection. A sheep learns its shepherd’s voice by making mistakes. Christ does not expect perfection anymore than a shepherd would expect perfection from the youngest sheep in the fold. If Christ is willing to be patient with you, how much more ought you to be patient with him? Can you give yourself the time and space you need to better learn his voice?

—Patrick Hyland, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the Chicago-Detroit province, is studying philosophy at St. Louis University. He lives at the Bellarmine House of Studies.