“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.”
In 1906 a Special Holy Synod of our Church was convened and one of its actions was to declare the Sunday after Christmas the Solemnity of the Humble Shepherds.
As the faithful of the Polish National Catholic Church we annually celebrate the example of humble working people represented by the Bethlehem shepherds, the ones chosen by God in Luke’s Gospel to hear the first announcement of Jesus’ birth.
God had exalted these often shunned and discriminated individuals. God had honored their honest and humble work as He sent His Son into the world in such an extraordinarily ordinary circumstance.
This Solemnity was meant to encourage the predominantly immigrant, working class, and poor Church members of that day.
Those hard working and under-appreciated first parishioners were spiritually strengthened to maintain the good fight for a democratic, people’s Catholic church by remembering the example of the Humble Shepherds. They fully understood the humble shepherds who, when prompted by God, went to meet the newborn savior: “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” Then having seen the fulfillment they took action and made the good news known: And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child.
This Solemnity reminds us to maintain our focus. We must listen to God’s word and then we must take action. We must continue to fight against meaningless parades of pomp for the sake of glorifying clergy in carrying out our faith life. Ours is a humble Church, built by the humble, and led by humble shepherds who love Jesus and their people. This is a model of Christian faith, practiced in the PNCC for over 100 years, which other Churches are beginning to find.
On this Solemnity we also particularly remember and pray for our shepherds – the priests and bishops who lead us with love and humility. They listened to the prompting of God and took action – standing before us to make God’s word known so that we might take action. Let us ask God to bless our clergy and to call forth to Sacred Vocations those called by Christ to be the humble shepherds of our congregations. May they hear, listen, and take action.