Sunday, December 25, 2011

Us vs. the Shepherds

In Luke 2, we have presented to us the story of Jesus' birth, followed immediately by the revelation of Christ's birth (via a multitude of angels) to some shepherds nearby.  The shepherds, having heard the report from the angel and having visited the Holy Family, proceed to tell others and to praise God for what they had seen and heard. (Luke 1:17)

We might say that anyone would've responded like these shepherds, given what they saw, but the reality is that few people are such faithful and exuberant witnesses to God's work.  John Calvin gives us some great insights on this:  "The shepherds knew with certainty that this was a work of God.  Their zeal in "glorying and praising God"(Luke 1:20) is an implied reproof of our indolence, or rather of our ingratitude.  If the cradle of Christ had such an effect upon them, as to make them rise from the stable and the manger to heaven, how much more powerful ought the death and resurrection of Christ [be for us] in raising us to God?" The shepherds response shows us how dull we are, and their example calls us to a more appropriate reaction to God's work than we usually have.

We too have the opportunity to worship Christ for his birth and the mystery of the Incarnation.  But unlike the shepherds, we also have the rest of the story: Christ's life, his death, resurrection and ascension.  We have been told also of his glorious return, and we have seen Christ's works in his Church for nearly 2,000 years. Looking at these shepherds, we must ask our selves:
  • How is our response to these great works?  
  • Do we make known what has been said as the shepherds did? (Luke 1:17) Whom have you told? 
  • Do we glorify God and praise Him for such great works as the shepherds did? (Luke 1:20) Is that a goal for you this coming Christmas?
Indeed, many of us think we are educated, well-taught, and filled with the Holy Spirit.  And many of us may actually be these things and more.  But we are nearly all of us put to shame by these shepherds who responded so appropriately to God's works: telling all who would listen and worshipping God.

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