The First Christmas with the Shepherds of Bethlehem

Dec 5, 2023

The commotion in Heaven is tremendous! The day of the Child’s birth arrives, and here “Child” is capitalized because it is the Word, “all things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing came to be” (John 1:3). God the Father had this Child in mind when He created Adam, and all of humanity gazes into this same mirror: Christ reveals man to himself… The angels are aware of this mystery, and they are astonished as events unfold: Apart from Mary and Joseph, no one finds out, He is not even offered paid lodging at the inn. “He came to His own, but His own did not welcome Him” (John 1:11). Some angels cannot contain themselves and ask for permission to announce the birth. God the Father grants it, but it must be to people who are meek, for the Son wishes to come to earth without the powerful knowing, in silence. Only one angel appears before the shepherds, so as not to frighten them, and gives them the signal, the sign by which they will recognize Jesus: poverty; immediately, “a multitude of the heavenly host” joins him.

Church of Shepherds Field, Bethlehem

Church of Shepherds Field, Bethlehem

Only meek and humble people are capable of recognizing God in a newborn Child. Only when you are simple and humble can you see the hand of God behind the most ordinary events. The world of the important people, busy with governing the destiny of nations, missed the first Christmas without noticing. The only way to delve into the mystery is to contemplate it with simplicity, with the eyes of a child, the eyes of Jesus Himself as you contemplate Him. We are one more among the shepherds, and we do not mind getting up in the middle of the night and heading to Bethlehem. There we will find the hospitality of Mary and Joseph, with the Child. And then… the immense joy we feel devolves into an unstoppable desire to share it with others. That’s how the scene ends, with the shepherds recounting what they had seen, and that’s what we, as Christians, are also called to do.

By father Joaquín Paniello 

Church of Shepherds Field, Bethlehem

Church Shepherds Field, Bethlehem


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