SPREAD GOD'S WORD BY DEED AND WORD, MEDITATE ON IT ALL LIFE LONG
First Reading : (Is 62: 11-12 ) : The
Savior has come
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. (Lk 2 :15-20 )
As we celebrate the feast of Christmas today, let us look at two of the main personalities to find the best way and spirit with which to celebrate this feast. These are the shepherds and Mary.
First, the shepherds. In the First Reading today the Prophet Isaiah says, “The Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to daughter Zion, ‘See, your salvation comes; his reward is with him and his recompense before him.’ They shall be called,, ‘The Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord; and you shall be called, ‘Sought Out, a city not Forsaken.’”(Is 62: 11 –12).
Isaiah wrote this when he returned home from exile. The land had been
devastated, fields left uncultivated, fallen structures and debris were
everywhere. People were despondent and hopeless, those who had been
called “The Chosen People” seemed abandoned. The ‘God of the Mighty
Army,’ the ‘Ever-Victorious God' was unable to withstand even one blow!
It seemed ‘Age of the Messiah’ was a vain hope after all. It had been
a fantasy, a rumor only, a broken promise, with no foundation in truth.
Year after year the Israelites had waited in hope for the Messiah, as
the people in a drought look to the cloud, the drowned person to the
They went, they saw, they found, they believed. Thousands of years of waiting and anxiety, year after year of expectation, - suddenly he was there before their eyes, their expectations had been fulfilled, had become a reality! The shepherds spread the word and gave praise to God. They glorified God with joy, praised His great mercy and sang of His wonderful love. “They made known what had been told them about this child. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God” ( See Lk 2: 17, 20 )
It is true what Confucius said, “If a man in the morning hears the
right way, he may die in the evening without regret.” These shepherds
did not just hear the Way, they were actually with the Way, and in personal,
individual, close contact with this Way. Having had contact with the
Way, the shepherds must live out the Way, experience the blessings of
the Way, and spread news of the Way.
The second important personage at Christmas is Mary, the mother of
the newborn infant. Scripture records that Mary ‘kept all these things
in her heart.’ That is, she ‘remembered,’ or ‘pondered them in her heart.’
Over and over she thought about her experiences, contemplated them deeply.
“Mary treasured all these words and pondered
them in her heart.” ( Lk 2 : 19 )
As the baby inside her grew day by day, Mary was overwhelmed with a combination of feelings: anticipation, anxiety, joy, blessedness. The Chinese sages wrote, “the closer I get to my homeland, the more nervous I am”. As the date for her child grew nearer Mary must have had an unfathomable emotion. It must have been an indescribable emotion the best and greatest mother in the world felt before she gave birth to her first-born child.
Finally, Jesus was born. The infant lying before her was truly God, yet truly human. She held him in her arms, kissed and cradled him, fed him. With her own life's precious milk she nursed him. Her life actually had come from him, and now she was nourishing his life with her own life!
Let us meditate and reflect again and again! How can we not be filled with astonishment and gratitude, marveling at this mystery, a mystery we can never fully understand. What else can we do except continue to ‘ponder in our hearts’ the God who came down to earth for us.