In Homer’s Odyssey we trace the epic return journey of Odysseus from Troy to his home in Ithaca. It is a long and arduous journey of ten years filled with many adventures and terrors. At one point along the journey, Odysseus is warned of a coming trial: the Sirens whose song is so irresistible that none can hear it and escape. Many sailors have been lured into destruction by the apparent beauty of the song. As Odysseus and his men approach the Siren’s isle, he orders his sailor to plug up their ears with beeswax until they are out of range of this beautiful, devastating song. Because he wants to hear the song himself, his sailors tie him tightly to the mast.
Today our world reverberates with many siren songs that sound beautiful but lead only to destruction. They are the songs that promise life, joy, and happiness with all the delicacy and delight the world can offer. The counter melody of the siren song, however, drones out hollow and gaunt like death. The siren songs leads many lives to shipwreck and devastation. “No wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
Penetrating the echo of siren songs, there is another voice speaking with plain simplicity that gives us abundant life. It is the voice of the good shepherd who knows His sheep. “His sheep follow Him because they know His voice” (John 10:4). “He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out” (10:3). He speaks with heavenly wisdom that is “pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17). Jesus is that good shepherd who breaks through the devastating siren songs with God-saturated life.
What voices do we choose to familiarize ourselves with? To what extremes must we go in order to not be lured by the siren songs? Like the sailors, we may need to stop up our ears so we do not follow those songs into death. Like Odysseus, we may need companions who will strap us down to prevent our own ruin.
May the voice of the Good Shepherd resonate through our hearts and minds in order to bring us enduring life.