And there were in the same country shepherds watching, and keeping the night watches over their flock. And behold an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the brightness of God shone round about them; and they feared with a great fear. And the angel said to them: Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, that shall be to all the people:
For, this day, is born to you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will. And it came to pass, after the angels departed from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us go over to Bethlehem, and let us see this word that is come to pass, which the Lord hath shewed to us.
And they came with haste; and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. And seeing, they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this child. And all that heard, wondered; and at those things that were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God, for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. (Luke 2:8-20)
Well, the festive season of Christmas starts today. The quote above is taken from Luke's gospel. Half of it is part of the gospel for the Mass at Midnight and the other half is part of the gospel for the Mass at Dawn.
It's funny that only Luke's gospel mentions the shepherds. Then again, this makes sense, seeing as Luke's gospel was written for gentiles. You can imagine what the shepherds who got the message felt like, awe-struck and full of fear. Now at the time, being a shepherd was not a well-paying job. The fact that the angels came to poor people like the shepherds fits right in line with how Jesus spent a good bit of his ministry on earth with the poor, since the rich usually rejected Jesus's message. Notice that the message that the angels bring to the shepherds is for the whole world, and not just the Jewish people. A savior has been born..for all of us; the same savior that would eventually die on the Cross for the sins of everyone and redeem the whole world. After the message had been proclaimed, the shepherds left for Bethlehem in haste to see this great and awesome sight. When the shepherds told Mary and Joseph (and anyone else who might have been there), we are told that they all "wondered" at everything the shepherds said. However, Luke makes a special mention of Mary, saying that she was "pondering them in her heart". Mary might have been wondering what this message meant at the time, but it all makes more sense as Jesus does his ministry on earth. If you noticed, this is also the part of scripture where we get the first part of the Gloria that we sing at Mass from.
I would just like to wish everyone a very Merry and Joyous Christmas this year. The Christmas season (at least, in the Roman Catholic Church, things might be different for Eastern Catholics) lasts from today all the way to the Baptism of our Lord (January 13, 2013). During this time, let's not forget that Jesus is the real reason for the season.
Any comments and well wishes are welcome and you can put them in the comment box below.