Gospel Lk 2:15-20

and everyone who heard it was astonished.

This is truly an astonishing encounter.

The circumstances are beyond what we would consider normal – choirs of angels appearing seemingly out of nowhere announcing the birth of the Messiah to lowly shepherds.

Yet despite the extraordinary nature of the events leading up to this encounter, what is perhaps most astonishing is the fact that what the shepherds found not only matched exactly what they had been told – but that the child they encountered corresponded to the deepest desires of their hearts. Extraordinary events surrounded something that was otherwise so ordinary, so natural.

This child, innocent and helpless, in fact changes everything. This vulnerable child is in fact ‘the center of the universe and of history.’ (RH, 1)

And this is what we celebrate at Christmas – the All-Powerful taking on the weak and vulnerable human flesh of this little child. God comes to meet us in the ordinariness of our daily life.

As we must remember, the Christian faith is not a series of intellectual propositions or moral precepts that must be accepted an abided by – ideas (propositions and precepts) do not need a mother. No. The Christian faith is an encounter with an event, a person which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.’ (DCE, 1)

The encounter that the shepherds had corresponded to the deepest needs and desires of their hearts, and this is an encounter that we can now share.

Point to Ponder

‘Mary and Joseph are not ideas. They are real people who made decisions on which our faith depends. Christianity is not a timeless set of ideas. Christianity is not some ideal toward which we ought always to strive even though the ideal is out of reach. Christianity is not a series of slogans that sum up our beliefs. Slogans such as “justification by grace through faith” can be useful if you do not forget it is a slogan. But Christianity cannot be so easily “summed up” even by the best of slogans or ideas. It cannot be summed up because our faith depends on a young Jewish mother called Mary.’ – Stanley Hauerwas