Friday, December 28, 2018


At Christmas we are not just recalling past events. These events remain somehow present  as a live current that we are meant to plug into. As we celebrate the physical birth of Jesus into the world, we are meant to move from the fact of this birth to its meaning. What does this birth mean for your life and for my life? What do our lives look like now in light of this birth? Jesus’ birth, the birth of the eternal Son of the Father in each of our lives is as unique and particular as is each of our lives.

The angel’s announcement of Jesus’ birth interrupted the shepherds’ lives. It called them away from their field and the watching of their flock. They went to Bethlehem to find “the child lying in a manger.” The “good news of great joy” is announced in the ordinary, everyday circumstances of our lives. What are our particular fields and flocks? Family and friends, ups and downs, frustrations and consolations, joys and sorrows. That’s where he wants to be born. That’s where we are invited to ‘plug in’, to come and adore. This isn’t an escape from the fields and flocks, including the rocks and manure of our lives. The birth that called the shepherds away from their fields and flocks is also the birth that returned them to their fields and flocks again. Their fields and flocks weren’t different. But they were. They now carried the birth of Jesus wherever they went. 

The shepherds were directed to Bethlehem, to find an Infant lying in a manger; which, as we know, is a feeding trough. At each Mass we are invited to approach the feeding trough of the altar, not only to see and gaze and worship but to consume the very bread of life; the body, blood, soul and divinity of the Word made flesh. We are invited to become what we consume. Not only to pause in blissful adoration but also to go forth and feed others with the very same life of God which we are becoming. 
Adoration of the Shepherds, Bartolomé Murillo (c. 1617-1682), Spanish. Excerpt from Abbot Damian's homily for Christmas Eve.