In the Gospel of Luke, we read that the good news of birth of Jesus was first given to the shepherds. The Angel said to them: “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Lk2:10). Why did God choose the shepherds to be the first recipients of the good news? To get an answer to this, we need to reflect on some of the characteristics of the shepherds.
Jesus called himself a good shepherd mainly because of the love and care which the shepherds have towards their sheep. The shepherds live with a sense of mission – the mission of caring for the sheep entrusted to them. For them the work is not just a means of getting riches, fame and glory. Their work involves personal dedication, faithfulness and sacrifices. They depend on God’s providence, in their constant life journey looking for the pastures for their sheep. They lead a life of humility and simplicity, recognizing that it is God who provides for them. It is, to people like them, God always reveals himself.
The response of the shepherds to the angel’s message is also good to reflect on, especially as we are in the Christmas season.
“When the angels had left, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the child lying in the manger. They shared with Mary and Joseph what they were told about the Child and returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told to them.” (LK2:15-20).
Pope Bendedict XVI once said, “Christian faith is not a theory but an event. In Jesus, God stepped into the world and acted.” It is the Christmas event which is the basis of our Christian faith. The shepherds personally decided to go to Bethlehem in haste and see for themselves what the angel had made known to them.
This event of shepherds meeting infant Christ is a model of our personal encounter with God. Our faith calls for action and a personal experience of Jesus; in prayer, in the sacraments and in the Word of God. Only then does it becomes our personal conviction and experience. For this we also need to be like shepherds in our love and care for one another. We need to trust in the guidance of divine providence and lead a life of simplicity and humility.
About the Author:
Fr. Binoy Puthusery, C.M. is a Vincentian priest belonging to the Southern Indian Province. He was ordained as priest on December 27, 2008 and soon after served as an assistant parish priest in Tanzania. In 2011, after two years of ministry, he was appointed as Spiritual Director to the Vincentian Sisters of Mercy, Mbinga Tanzania, where he still is today.