And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child

At our three Holy Masses of Christmas we saw references over and over again to Jesus as the light of the world, the light of heaven breaking into the world to change it forever.

We can certainly see how the Lord’s love and mercy have changed us. We no longer live in fear. Our life is eternal, the gates of heaven and all its light are opened to us. We have forgiveness of sin, we have a new relationship with God and to each other.

We who were once strangers and afar off are bound together in a new family, the family of the Church. We are given two important missions by God that spread the light of Christ.

Our first mission is to grow in our personal sanctification, to become more like Jesus, to walk better in His ways. We receive power and strength to do that through the many graces we receive both sacramentally and in living our everyday walk of faith.

Our other first mission, for it is equal to the necessity for sanctification, is to build the Kingdom of God right here and right now.

On Christmas 1919 Bishop Hodur addressed his congregation and spoke of the gap between the very materialistic view of the world, a world only concerned with bodily needs and wants, and the Savior Who came to build up both the body and the soul. He called this materialistic focus an illness, for the worldly do not perceive the wholeness God offers us in Jesus. They limit themselves by their deafness to His word and way.

Jesus pointed to the Kingdom and called us to build. We are to call people out of where they are, out of deafness, to what they can be, not only as individuals, but as a society.

This is the example we celebrate today on this very special Solemnity in our Holy Church – the Humble Shepherds, the Ubogich Pasterzy.

The Shepherds whose life was limited to the care of earthly material things, their flocks and pay and duties, encountered heaven. They met Christ Jesus their Lord and Messiah, God. They met Him as we meet Him each time we come to Holy Mass, participate, pray through the Eucharist, and receive Him. They were left with the same choice we all have. What will I do for my sanctification and for the building of the Kingdom?

The Shepherds set forth to announce and build the Kingdom. In the world’s eyes they remined poor, but in God’s eyes they became whole and rich. Let us decide to as well, as we renew our commitment to God’s mission for us. 

Reflection for the Solemnity of the Humble Shepherds

Slide1

He called,
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.