But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy…
My homily on Christmas was centered on Paul’s letter to Titus, someone we do not encounter very much in the Church year (4 times at most). As I mentioned, Titus was the first Bishop of Crete, that small Mediterranean island that lies between Athens and Rhodes.
On Christmas we focused on the confidence Titus needed because he was charged with developing the Church in Crete, a place Paul had never visited.
As I also mentioned, there is a lot in Paul’s letter to Titus about Church organization, differing groups of people and their roles and responsibilities and how they are to grow in faith, but key to all of that was how the grace and love of God that appeared in Jesus Christ should cause us all to live and act, eager to do what is good.
Indeed, we are to live with the confidence of a people who have been redeemed, saved, delivered, and cleansed; a people belonging to God.
About 86 years before Paul wrote his letter to Titus, Jesus was born, and the first to encounter Him besides Mary and Joseph were the Humble Shepherds of the area.
Like all of us, those Humble Shepherds had not done anything to merit the announcement they heard. They hadn’t even bought a lottery ticket. They weren’t thinking – I’m in it to win it. Yet the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared to them.
God’s coming among us brought about real change and it is change that will last forever. It will last despite the world’s denial, despite any negative thing we could think of, and it will overcome for as Jeremiah proclaimed: I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. That is God’s promise and Jesus’ coming did that!
What can we take away from this encounter with those Humble Shepherds who were so highly blessed?
We can take an attitude of confidence because Jesus saved us despite ourselves. We can develop an active disposition – to get up, go, learn, then witness, and proclaim based on faith alone without any prompting, without fear. We can live as Jesus intends – in gladness and comfort knowing we are His. Come, let us go to the stable.