How do you recognize the voice of Christ? It’s all in ‘The Shoop Shoop Song.’

Remember “The Shoop Shoop Song”? It was about how to know, really know, if he loves you so. The answer, rather famously, was in his kiss.

Does he love me I want to know
How can I tell if he loves me so
Is it in his eyes?
Oh no! You’ll be deceived
Is it in his sighs?
Oh no! He’ll make believe
If you want to know if he loves you so
It’s in his kiss
That’s where it is.

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The great lovers among us can decide if the song is on target, that the kiss really is the way to tell if love is true. My question was, why is it called “The Shoop Shoop Song”? The answer: It’s the sound the backup singers make.

Here’s another question. How do you recognize the voice of our shepherd? Realize, of course, that in referring to Christ’s voice, we are speaking metaphorically. No one who claims to have heard him speak would suggest that a recording device would have captured the communication.

So whether we are talking about a vision with a locution (something heard interiorly), or an idea or intuition that just won’t go away, or a sudden and strong conviction, whether it’s a dream or the declaration of another, the question remains: How do we recognize the voice of Christ? How do we know that it is the shepherd of our souls who is speaking to us?

First, it has nothing to do with the strength of the medium. The most undeniable of visions might be self-induced or it might come from a malign source. It might even dissipate when the alarm clock rings. Bottom line: There is nothing is the intensity or quality of the communication that verifies its source.

The voice of Christ gathers. It summons us. The voice of the anti-Christ scatters.

So how do we recognize that we have heard from the shepherd? It has everything to do with the fruit that the voice seeds. In brief, the voice of Christ gathers. It summons us. The voice of the anti-Christ scatters. It sunders us, pulls us apart.

Whatever the medium or the intensity, the voice of Christ always draws us into the community that we call the church. It pulls us toward others. It makes us aware of their needs, their presence and their precise particularities. That is why it’s so aptly called the voice of the shepherd because it summons together a flock.

In contrast, the voice of the evil one sunders. The New Testament word for devil, diábolos, means just that: the one who scatters. This voice talks about the shortcomings of others. It details how different we are from them. It insists that we distance ourselves from them. It calls us away from communion, from community. Again, the medium, quality and intensity are meaningless in discerning the source of the voice. The devil can appear as an angel of light.

When you see how different the other is and yet are drawn in, Christ is calling.

It is the difference between summoning and scattering that matters. This distinction is also true when the voice speaks of us rather than of others. Christ always calls us to summon up our strengths, to retreat from those situations that would drain our energies, to come close to him in prayer. When speaking to us about ourselves Christ calls us to come away from all that divides and weaken us.

Again, in contrast, the evil one scatters the soul. His voice pulls us in many directions. It stirs up conflicting, selfish desires that tire and depress us. This voice might urge us toward another but only to devour the other as ours, not to receive him or her as other. If you feel that you are, as we say, “coming apart,” it is not the voice of the shepherd of souls that is holding sway.

Is it all a bit confusing? In dealing with others, fall back on “The Shoop Shoop Song.” Remember: It’s in his kiss. A kiss takes two. When you see how different the other is and yet are drawn in, Christ is calling. It is the evil one who turns difference into division.

When the evil one speaks to you of you, he scatters you. Eyes and embraces mislead; sighs deceive. That is also in “The Shoop Shoop Song.” This voice shatters the self into shards.

When Christ speaks to you of you, he gathers you. His voice calms you. It rallies your strength. It sustains you in sorrow. It kindles hope. You could say, his voice is like a kiss. Because, if you’ve been kissed, you are clearly not alone.

Readings: Acts 2:14a, 36-41 1 Peter 2:20b-25 John 10:1-10

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