Shepherds Rising

May the forgiving spirit of Him to whom we dedicate this season prevail again on earth.
May hunger disappear and terrorists cease their senseless acts.
May people live in freedom, worshiping as they see fit, loving others.
May the sanctity of the home be ever preserved.
May peace, everlasting peace, reign supreme.

Soundings, Vol. 2, # 12


Already the stripped trees are lying curbside, awaiting the garbage trucks. Yesterday I began to see posts from friends on Facebook stating that the decorations are all down and Christmas is over. It’s only Dec. 27th but already we’re rushing off to the next thing on the calendar. My wife said that while shopping yesterday for household supplies she encountered Valentine’s Day cards already being set out for display.

Trees, decorations and Christmas music are not necessary to keep Christmas of course. That is something that lives within our hearts and is an attitude that we go out with into the world.

How many of us have truly absorbed what Luke or the other Gospel writers were describing about the world into which Christ was born? Have they noticed the number of sick who appear in the Gospels? Who or what made them sick? Political oppression, legal degradation, economic plunder, and religious neutrality in the scope of the “permitted religion” were realities that Luke kept in view of his story. (One could make an argument that we are experiencing this situation in our lands today.) All due to the so-called pax romana, or Peace of Rome. Into this truth of history appeared the pax Christi and some began to respond.

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 babe 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 and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.  – Luke 2:15-20.

Angel and the Shepherds
by Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890)

The frightened shepherds become God’s messengers. They organize, make haste, find others, and speak with them. Deep down, don’t we all want to become shepherds and catch sight of the angel? I think so. Without the perspective of the poor, we see nothing, not even an angel. When we approach the poor, our values and goals change. The child appears in many other children. Mary seeks sanctuary among us. Because the angels sing, the shepherds rise, leave their fears behind, and set out for Bethlehem, wherever it is situated these days.

Christmas is far from over no matter what Madison Avenue tells us. The angels have only now stopped singing. The shepherds are only now finding the babe in the manger. Soon they will go out into the world and tell others of what they saw. Another who will do this only a few decades later is celebrated today by the Church with his own feast day: St. John the Evangelist. He, too, spoke to others of what he had seen. Below are are few simple suggestions for special gifts that I found by an anonymous source to help bring the pax Christi into each of our own little portion of the world.

  • a firm handshake to a shaky soul
  • a kind word to a lonely person
  • a warm smile to the disheartened
  • a sincere concern for someone troubled
  • a feeling of compassion for the neglected
  • a comforting thought for the bereaved
  • a respect for the dignity of others
  • a defense of the rights of individuals
  • a word of witness to help a seeking soul
  • a Merry Christmas to all.

2 thoughts on “Shepherds Rising

    • Hi Breanna. It’s a painting by 19th century Danish artist Carl Heinrich Bloch. He called it “Angel and the Shepherds”. I’d forgotten to give proper credit and have fixed that. Hope this helps!


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