shepherds watching | National Catholic journalist
“Glory to God in the highest heavens, and peace on earth to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14).
Because Christmas takes place on a Saturday this year, the Lectionary is exhibiting its treasures in rapid succession starting Friday, December 24. The mass of the day has the Canticle of Zacharie, then for the vigil the genealogy of Matthew. Most churches will celebrate their main liturgy on Friday evening using the majestic birth announcement of Isaiah 9: 1-6 and the familiar gospel of Luke 2: 1-14 on the birth of Jesus and the message of Jesus. angel to the shepherds. A dawn mass on Saturday, December 25, continues the story of Luke of the shepherds arriving at the crib (2: 15-20), and finally, for the mass on Christmas day, the prologue of John 1: 1- 18
We then catch our breath and celebrate the Holy Family on Sunday, December 26. With six services in total for the weekend, it is only at the Triduum leading up to Easter that Catholics will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in so much scripture and liturgy focused on the core beliefs of our faith. Families with crib sets will have to wait until after New Years Day, a Saturday, to celebrate the Magi on the feast of Epiphany, January 2, before putting everything away until 2022. Catholic culture can do. competing with other vacation distractions is an annual matter, although some will try.
Whatever culture, secular or sacred, demands our attention, the world will still be teeming with the timeless divinity in all things and the redemptive activity of Jesus Christ through the members of his body, born in a manger, glorified on the cross, being reborn in the church at Pentecost and sent to transform hearts and history until the end of time.
Christmas remains the only spectacle in town on such a cosmic scale, even though every diary makes the headlines. God is the Lord of Creation, at work by the Holy Spirit to bring mankind together into a beloved community which is the purpose of our evolving Universe. How long it takes to tune the song in the story into harmony is God’s challenge for us to be the people of peace and goodwill that the heavenly choir invited to find the child on Christmas morning .
Shepherds, essential workers with night jobs, were the first to know that God had come for all who were left behind, displaced and despised, that they were the perfect messengers of the kind of savior Jesus would be. They knew how to find the stable on the hillside where a desperate couple could keep a newborn baby wrapped in rags and out of the wind. It is their world that God chose to begin the story of redemption.
Perhaps it is because there is so much noise and neglect in our conflicted and distracted lives that we yearn for the peace and simplicity of the Christmas story. Pulsed lights and glowing screens blind us to the gift of clarity and stars from the night sky that shows us how empty life becomes without real human relationships and without compassion for all around us in the hope of a place at the table. God has come to teach us to become human again, and it always begins within the community and the circle of life.
This reflection is about Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The preaching in pencil will resume on Saturday to reflect on Holy Family Sunday.