Christmas Day Reflection: Glory!
Franciscan Reflections From The Hermitage – Christmas Day – Mass of the Shepherds – Luke 2: 15-20
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So, they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Luke 2:15-20)
Why are you so favoured, o shepherds? Windswept and unkempt with the dank smell of the sheep, why are you so privileged, o shepherds of the hills? From the time of Abel, the first-named Shepherd, through those many who found your favour, Abraham, Lot, Laban, Moses, and your beloved David. Smelly and unskilled, relegated to the lower strata of society, yet these are the ones who found favour in God’s eyes… raised as priests, prophets, and kings.
Far from the city delights, far from the elaborate temple worship, far from the debates at the city gates, these are the shepherds who today announce God’s words in fulfilment of a promise… a Messiah is born.
These are the shepherds who gaze into the night sky, free of distractions and all those many compelling drives of status and achievement, open to hearing God’s revelation in the book of creation. They gaze upon the dancing stars that proclaim the most distant past of God’s dictate, “Let there be…”.
This Word that speaks through all of time has now become one with us. This is a revelation almost beyond bearing as in the silence we begin to hear the melody that accompanies the dancing with an aching and expanding heart. You and I, merest mote of dust, a teaspoon of energy, and a clot of blood, one with and part of God in eternity.
A mystical instant of transcendent insight, all of us, each and every one of those dancing motes of dust, part of an eternal and ongoing creation, part of the story of ‘I am’, a note in the melody that speaks of who God is, I note that speaks of who ‘I am’. On this Christmas morning, we too are shepherds filled with the spirit of God, “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in our heart to the Lord”
The Song of the Shepherd Boy in the Valley of Humiliation
by John Bunyan
He that is down need fear no fall,
He that is low, no pride;
He that is humble ever shall
Have God to be his guide.
I am content with what I have,
Little be it or much:
And, Lord contentment still I crave,
Because Thou gavest such.
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