In The School Of The Shepherds
This Christmas, the Lord has enrolled me in the “School of the Shepherds.” They have taught me three very important lessons showing me how to enter into the mystery of Christmas in this unique time.
The first lesson is faithfulness. The shepherds were quite simply, “Out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an Angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Luke 2:8-9). They were exactly where they were supposed to be, doing exactly what a shepherd does. In the same way, the Lord meets us where we are...in our daily lives, among our ordinary tasks and responsibilities. We need not be somewhere else or in better circumstances. God invites us, calls us, and comes to us wherever we may be right now. This is the place where He will come to us, we must be found faithful.
Second, the shepherds show us that we must be present to the mystery. “The shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us!’ And they went with haste” (Luke 2:15-16). Let us go and see! We must go and see for ourselves. We, too, must go to Bethlehem in the quiet of our hearts and see this thing that has happened. I think that this year, more than ever, with less distractions, quieter gatherings, and even with heavier hearts for the suffering all around us, the Lord seems to be saying with great desire: “Come! Come to the Manger and see! Set your gaze on the Child, wrapped in swaddling clothes. Let your hearts rest in wonder - be amazed at what God has done! God has come and made His dwelling with you. God has come, and He has come as Love!” Let us not miss this, let us go and see!
Finally, the shepherds teach us that we should have receptive hearts. We must have hearts that are wide open...ready to be moved, changed and filled with the wonder of Christmas. “They found Mary and Joseph and the Babe lying in the manger...and the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen” (Luke 2:16,20). The shepherds came and were changed by what they encountered. They returned transformed, filled, satisfied...bursting with joy and praise for their new-born King, Jesus Christ the Lord! We, too, must come with hearts open and ready to receive the love that is waiting for us. It is a love that will leave us fulfilled and singing for joy. Will we have room in our hearts to receive such a gift?
This Christmas, may we, like the shepherds, be found faithful. May we go with haste to see our King, and may we have hearts wide open to receive the joy God has prepared for us. Come, Lord Jesus. Come and do not delay!
Sr. Emmanuel, CFR Novice