Solemnity of Humble Shepherds ‘B’
December 31, 2023
Ps 97:1, 6, 11-12
The main theme of this Gospel is an invitation to enjoy, by a life of sharing love, the lasting peace and heavenly joy brought by the Divine Savior. St. John gives the main reason for our Christmas joy in his Gospel (3:16): “For God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” God showed His love for sinful man by sharing His love with us in His Son, Incarnate as Jesus in Bethlehem, Who, in turn, saved us by His suffering, death and Resurrection.
In the First Reading, the prophet Isaiah shows the Jews their God as a saving God Who will extend His redemption to His holy city.
In the Second Reading, St. Paul tells Titus that God saves us through His Son Jesus, not because we have deserved it by our good deeds, but because of His mercy. Jesus continues His saving mission by allowing us to be reborn by water and the Holy Spirit, thus enabling us to become God’s children and heirs of eternal life.
Describing the response of the shepherds to the angelic message, today’s Gospel invites us to offer ourselves as a gift to Jesus, our Lord and Savior, and to bear witness to Him through our lives by sharing love with others.
We need to be Christ-bearers and Christ-givers: Since it is Jesus Who gives real meaning to our celebrations, Jesus must be reborn in us each time we celebrate Christmas. Let us leave a “room in the inn” of our hearts for Jesus to be reborn in our lives. We pray for the grace of Jesus’ birth in each one of us today, bringing us love, mercy, kindness and compassion to give away. Let us help all those around us to experience the new-born Savior - Jesus within us - by sharing love, compassionate words, and overflowing generosity.
We need to listen to God speaking to us every day and respond promptly, as the shepherds did: There is not one of us who has not had God speak to him/her in some personal way. It may not have happened as dramatically as it did with these shepherds, but God has indeed spoken to our soul and spirit. Too often, however, we have chosen not to listen. Have we ever had that same inner sense of knowing we needed to do something or to avoid doing something? That was the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to us, the Spirit sent to us by the Father at the request of Jesus our Savior. Whether or not we chose to listen in those cases really isn't the point. The point is that God has indeed spoken to us, and He continues to speak to us right now. How are we going to respond…? Will we respond as Mary did, as the shepherds did, and as the magi did? Or… not?