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.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
There are many heroes surrounding the birth of Jesus. Certainly, the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph responded with uncommon, heroic graciousness to God’s unexpected invitation to be the mother and father of Jesus. They were well aware that something miraculous had taken place which allowed Mary to conceive and bear a son without “having known man.”
But perhaps the unsung heroes of today are the shepherds who also trusted the messages of angels. The shepherds took this divine prompting so seriously that they traveled to Bethlehem to see “this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” Maybe they even brought their flocks of sheep with them!
As we ponder the mystery of how God heals a broken world from the “inside out” through the incarnation of God’s love in Jesus, may we, like the shepherds, listen to the voices of angels in our prayer, and may these divine promptings help us to notice, savor and celebrate God’s healing, reconciling grace and love at work in our world.
—Fr. Brian Paulson, S.J. is the provincial of the Midwest Jesuits.
Today true peace came down to us from heaven.
Today the whole earth was filled with heaven’s sweetness.
Today a new day dawns,
the day of our redemption, prepared by God from ages past,
The beginning of our never ending gladness.
—Responsory from the Liturgy of the Hours for the Christmas season