Alleluia! He is come! Today we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ! In the Gospel of Luke, we read, “And [Mary] gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger” (Lk 2:7). We might have expected that the first ones to hear this Good News would be the kings and emperors of that region, or perhaps even the leaders of the temple of that day. Instead, only a group of poor shepherds who were out in the fields caring for their sheep that night were invited to welcome the new King.
We might also have expected that when the shepherds arrived, they would have been greeted with much pomp and ceremony – perhaps a sumptuous feast and all of the trappings that typically accompany the birth of a king. Instead, they found nothing out of the ordinary. There was only a helpless baby, lying in the hay. Could this truly be the Saviour? Was this really the promised Messiah who had been so eagerly awaited for thousands of years?
Jesus could have come in power and splendour; instead, He chose to come to us in humble poverty. He could have come as a glorious conqueror; instead He came as a baby, completely vulnerable and dependent on the loving care and protection of His parents, Mary and Joseph. Have you ever wondered why? In an address to the children of Rome, Pope Benedict XVI explained,
“God’s sign is simplicity. God’s sign is the baby. God’s sign is that he makes himself small for us. This is how he reigns. He does not come with power and outward splendour. He comes as a baby – defenceless and in need of our help. He does not want to overwhelm us with his strength. He takes away our fear of his greatness. He asks for our love: so he makes himself a child. He wants nothing other from us than our love, through which we spontaneously learn to enter into his feelings, his thoughts and his will – we learn to live with him and to practise with him that humility of renunciation that belongs to the very essence of love. God made himself small so that we could understand him, welcome him, and love him.”1
Today, we are the shepherds; we are the ones who have heard the announcement of Christ’s birth. Like those first shepherds, we have been invited to come and adore Him. He is waiting for us, hoping that as we celebrate this Great Feast of Christmas, each and every one of us will welcome Him into our hearts and homes with the same love and simplicity with which He first came to us at Bethlehem. Jesus asks for no gift other than our love; He asks for no gift other than our selves. Alleluia! Our Saviour has come! May the celebration of the arrival of the Christ Child fill your hearts with joy and peace!
– Sharon van der Sloot
1 Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the Children at Holy Mary, Star of the Evangelization Parish, Rome, “The Most Beautiful Gift is to be Kind to Others”(December 10, 2006); available from
http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cevang/p_missionary_works/infantia/documents/rc_ic_infantia_doc_20090324_boletin14p5_en.html; Internet; accessed 14 December 2012.