My heart changed.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.
Thank you for joining as we continue in the celebration of the Christmas Season and in our expectation of the Lord’s return in glory.
This unique Solemnity in our Holy Church dedicates a Sunday in the early Christmas season to the remembrance of those shepherds who first heard of the Lord’s birth from the angels. This Solemnity is so important that it displaces all other Solemnities of the Christmas season excepting the Circumcision, Holy Name of Jesus, and Epiphany should they occur on a Sunday. In most years, this Solemnity occurs on the Sunday after the Nativity. In years like this one with Christmas on a Sunday, this Solemnity is celebrated on the 8th of January.
This Solemnity is wonderful on so many levels for it shows how God interacts with humanity. God sent His angels to the poor workers of the region to announce His salvation, the fulfillment of the entire Old Testament. In fact, He chose the lowest of the low to receive this news.
We can assess their humility from the fact they were not people of pretense. They could not fool anyone about who they were – they even smelled like their work – the sheep, the pastures and woodland.
A lack of pretense is one sign of humility. Oxford notes that humility is: ‘Having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance. Of low social, administrative, or political rank.’
Another sign of humility / humbleness is what the Shepherd’s did with the news. They trusted and went, then having seen told people about it directly and honestly. The Shepherds experienced God and didn’t have to think about it, philosophize, theologize, or seek the local descendent of Aaron, a Levite, or religious leader to interpret for them.
In the Letter of St. James (James 4:10) we hear: Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. Good advice! The more like these Shepherds we are the better off we will be because God will be holding us up.
If we are hanging on to any pretense, let’s wash ourselves of it in confession. If we are grasping after the straws the world offers, know they will snap and break, and we will be alone. So, if we are grasping, let us stop and grasp onto Jesus. If we are holding off in talking about Jesus or waiting for the advice of philosophers, theologians, priests, or best sellers, let us stop waiting and get to work. Speak of Him.
Last week we spoke of being changed, having changed hearts and lives. Here we see the practical model of people who are transparent, honest, and humble about what God has done. God sent His Son Jesus to save us. Let us live as saved and humble as those Shepherds who declared the Lord.
Pray too for all present and these future humble shepherds of our Church: Alfonsito, Nick, Sean, David, Jason, Todd, Adam, Zach, Kevin, Zach, James, Nick, Rodryg, and all Deacon candidates.