The adoration of the shepherds

by Kevin Birnbaum

Angelo_Bronzino_Adoration_of_the_ShepherdsAdoration of the Shepherds by Il Bronzino (1503-1572)

As we prepare to celebrate the feast of Christ’s Nativity, consider again St. Luke’s beautiful account of the angel’s annunciation to the shepherds and their subsequent adoration of the Baby Jesus:

And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Lk 2:8-20)

We are in much the same position as those shepherds on that first Christmas. We have heard the good news. What will we do with it? The shepherds took action. They left all they had to worship the newborn Lord. They risked humiliation sharing the strange message with others. Will we? Do we have the courage to live like the shepherds?