Monday, December 24, 2018

The Feast of Christmas

The following is a reflection on Luke 2:1-20.

It surprised me when I recently opened the place in Scripture concerning the birth of Jesus. So much of the Christmas Story in Luke's gospel deals with the shepherds. Only two verses briefly describe Mary:

"She gave birth to a son...wrapped him in swaddling clothes...laid him in a manger."

I wondered why the author paid so much attention to the shepherd. But, more than that, what could I learn and better understand about my life? What does this passage mean for me in my everyday life?

As I began to reflect on Luke's story, my eyes caught on the phrase that the shepherds were:

"in the fields keeping guard over their sheep."

It seemed to me that the shepherds were doing what they were supposed to be doing. Of course they were! The shepherds were living in the present moment, watching their flock. I asked myself, am I doing what I'm supposed to be doing? I felt the desire to look more closely at whether I was attentively engaged in what was before me. Am I attentive to the persons, the circumstances, the events, the conversations taking place in my here and now? Or do I find my attention zooming forward to something in the future or mulling over things in the past? And when questions come into my life, how will I know whether what I want to do or where I want to go is truly pleasing God?

As I read further into the passage from Luke, the shepherds were afraid at first, but the angel of the Lord spoke with them. He brought them:

"news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people."

While they were tending their sheep, they were given news of great joy. Their experience of joy was a gift. Joy is not something that can be planned or prepared for. It seems to me that I cannot say that, "Today, I will prepare to have JOY!" The gift of joy and the surprise of joy, happens as a result of doing what I am supposed to be doing: living in the present moment.

As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, let us take time to focus our thoughts and energies on being especially attentive to the present moment, attentive to the presence of each person before us. May we be surprised with the joy that was experienced by the shepherds in Bethlehem!

Written by Sister Helen Brewer, D.C.

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