On this day the Church focuses especially on the newborn Child, God become human, who embodies for us all the hope and peace we seek. We need no other special saint today to lead us to Christ in the manger, although his mother Mary and Joseph, caring for his foster-Son, help round out the scene.
But if we were to select a patron for today, perhaps it might be appropriate for us to imagine an anonymous shepherd, summoned to the birthplace by a wondrous and even disturbing vision in the night, a summons from an angelic choir, promising peace and goodwill. A shepherd willing to seek out something that might just be too unbelievable to chase after, and yet compelling enough to leave behind the flocks in the field and search for a mystery.
On the day of the Lord’s birth, let’s let an unnamed, “un-celebrity” at the edge of the crowd model for us the way to discover Christ in our own hearts—somewhere between skepticism and wonder, between mystery and faith. And, like Mary and the shepherds, let us treasure that discovery in our hearts.
The precise dating in this passage sounds like a textbook on creationism. If we focus on the time frame, however, we miss the point. It lays out the story of a love affair: creation, the deliveranceof the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt, the rise of Israel under David. It climaxes with the birth of Jesus. From the beginning, some scholars insist, God intended to enter the world as one of us, the beloved people. Praise God!