they and I answered.
“I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, says the LORD.”
There are several very good reasons for our Church to have established this special Solemnity, that of the Humble Shepherds.
Our initial thoughts go to the remembrance of those men, who kept watch over their flocks by night, to whom the angel first appeared to announce the good news of the Lord’s birth.
Since God deigned to provide first news of His birth to these men, the Holy Church should rightly honor them and their witness to His coming. The community of the Church, each of us, should also take after their example by listening, responding, and taking action.
Next, our thoughts should go to those men around us that God continues to speak to and through. They work among us as leaders. They draw us to the goodness of the Lord. These are the shepherds among us; they are the bishops, priests, and deacons of our Holy Church.
What does it mean to be such a shepherd?
Like the shepherds on that hillside, today’s shepherds must listen. Listening is difficult, especially if the one speaking to you doesn’t use the phone, Facebook, E-mail, texting, or smoke signals. His word comes in very subtle ways, and they seem easy to set aside and ignore. Yet, if we dare to listen, we will hear Him speaking to us, setting forth a vital mission and challenge that we need to take on.
Like those shepherds, today’s responded and went. They left everything they thought they might be behind. They went to be what He wants them to be. Whether drafted, or going voluntarily (even reluctantly sometimes), they still chose to respond. They didn’t sit on the hillside wondering, “What if?” They didn’t miss the chance.
Also like the shepherds that went that night, they took something away with them, the experience of meeting the Lord who challenges us, who supports us, who is our best friend and confidant. They met Him and were changed in that meeting. They then took what they learned, and with the Lord’s help went out on mission, to build the Church, to gather co-workers, and to build family and community.
They lead because they have heard and seen abundantly. They tell others, many of who and astonished and do not accept their word. Those that do hear, who may also be astonished at first, but who then follow by listening, responding and taking action themselves are God’s witnesses in the world.