My two-year old Cocker Spaniel, Milo, has learnt to listen to my voice. He knows it when I call him. He bounces over to me when he hears my voice returning home. He knows it’s his master and he’ll get his fix of attention. All of this is easy enough when we’re at home. But with his heightened sense of smell and attentive hearing when we’re out, there’s temptation to stray. Before lockdown, he enjoyed having my nephews and nieces visit: it was a mega fun playtime for him! He recognises the voices of children and whenever we’re out and there’s a child’s voice, his ears prick up and he’s ready to bounce over to play. Then comes my voice, ‘Wait’ or ‘Come’. He pauses to think about it: does he follow this exciting new voice or stick with his master. Thankfully, he knows what’s good for him. But why? Why is my voice the one he listens to? Is it because I’m the greatest disciplinarian and have beaten him into submission. Not at all. It’s through the love and care I provide: I feed him, I wash him, I get the sleep out of his eyes each day, I play with him, I teach him and treat him, I protect him when he gets frightened, I walk him. He sticks with my voice because of the love he knows. Jesus, as shepherd to his flock, is the same for us. He isn’t the authoritarian shepherd demanding our attention and shouting at us to do what he wants. He is the loving shepherd who provides for us, cares for us and loves us. Even when we hear another voice and wander or get tempted, he is there calling us, ready to love and keep us as his own. We know his voice because we know his love.