Context: An angel appeared to Mother Mary to announce the Incarnation. An angel appeared to Saint Joseph in a dream to assure him this child was of God. And now an angel appeared to some poor, uneducated and humble shepherds in a field near the city of Bethlehem. This angel did not appear to the scribes and Pharisees, or to the temporal rulers, or the highly educated. The angel of God appeared to shepherds.
But it was not only one angel that appeared to proclaim this good news. Scripture says:
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:13–14, RSV-CE)
This humble event of the birth of the Savior of the world was something that not only caused the multitude of the heavenly hosts to give glory and adoration to God, it was an event that also invited those humble shepherds to join in this same adoration and praise of God.
Those humble shepherds also invite you to humble yourself before the great mystery of the birth of Christ. As you do, you hear the angel announce Christ’s birth to you. And as you assent in faith to this glorious event, you are invited to join in the chorus of praise of the multitude of the heavenly host.
Scripture Reading: Luke 2:8–20
Reflection: With your imagination, ponder the field, hear the sheep, notice the crisp evening air as these ordinary shepherds were first tending their sheep.
Quietly imagine the angel appearing while the “glory of the Lord” shines around them and you.
Hear the announcement of the birth of the Lord. Try to imagine hearing it as if you were hearing it for the first time.
Repeat this prayer, over and over, with the hosts of Heaven:
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!”
Imagine discussing this experience with the other shepherds, and then choosing to enter the town to see this Child.
Imagine seeing Mary and Joseph. What do they say? This is the Mother of God. See her holiness, her simplicity, her tenderness, her sanctity. Ponder these truths in silence.
Introduction to Meditations for the Christmas Season
- Birth of the Savior of the World
- Humble Shepherds
- Presentation in the Temple
- Flight into Egypt, Massacre of Holy Innocents
- Hidden Life, Finding in the Temple
Featured Image:The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds (Thomas Cole)