ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER
Brothers and Sisters,
Nine months ago, we celebrated the Annunciation, the time when Archangel Gabriel came to Blessed Mother and asked her to be the mother of the Son of God. With that, Christmas Day came last week. Now today we celebrate the Holy Family – Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. It is now that the real party is going to start. Similarly to all of our families, once the baby arrives, everyone is ready to come and see the newborn.
For baby Christ, the first visitors were the shepherds.
As for the shepherds, it must have been something more grand in the sky than the fireworks on the Fourth of July. In the fields on a quiet night (a silent night, perhaps) without warning: an angel appears in the sky. Saint Luke writes that “the glory of the Lord shone all around them” (Luke 2:9). I wish that I could have been there just to know what that means! Was “the glory of the Lord” like an eerie fog? Was it like a glowing light without any lamp or star? Was it like sparkles or fireworks, was it colorful or just blueish gray? AND, by the way, what did the angel look like? Taller than the hills or smaller than me? Was the angel in a human form or just a pillar of light? What of the voice of the unnamed angel – male or female voice? Booming or soft spoken? Saint Luke, you really left me hanging here without much to go on – all of these details are missing!
In any case, the shocked shepherds come to Bethlehem to meet “a Savior, born for you as Messiah and Lord in the city of David” (Luke 2:11). Of course, the irony is almost painful: the mighty king is a tiny baby. It is He that needs our protection, it is He that needs us to care for Him, and in so doing, we assist in salvation.
Later, the magi arrive. Were there three of them, were they kings? I don’t know and neither does Saint Matthew who merely recalls that “magi from the East arrived in Jerusalem, asking ‘where is the newborn king? We saw His star at its rising and have come to do Him homage’” (Matthew 2:1-2). Again, the magi, which means “wise men,” have the same irony. They are on hand to offer tribute – a gift of goodwill – to the King Who might otherwise send armies to annihilate them; yet the mighty, powerful, and fearful King is an infant.
Remember, brothers and sisters, Christ’s influence in us and others needs our attention and defense. Sure, at the end of our lives and the end of time, Christ needs not our aid. However, for us to be Christian, for others to be Christian, the infant Christ solicits our assistance so we will show others how to be shepherds and magi.
God be near,