Treasure (December 21, 2012)

…Opening To…

God’s glory, now, is kindled gentler than low candlelight
Under the rafters of a barn:
Eternal Peace is sleeping in the hay,
And Wisdom’s born in secret in a straw-roofed stable. (Thomas Merton)

…Listening In…

When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child. Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them. Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told. (Luke 2:17-20; context)

…Filling Up…

The first question, which these final verses of our story brings, is this: to whom did the shepherds report? I’m really curious. Did they run through Bethlehem Paul Revere style (“The messiah is coming! The messiah is coming!”)? Did they go to the local census bureau (after all, that’s why Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem in the first place) and tell them to add another Israelite to the rolls? Did they go to the religious leaders and tell them that their hopes had been fulfilled?

Without answering this question, I’ll pose another: what kind of reaction did the shepherds receive? Luke tells us that everyone who heard their report was “amazed at what the shepherds told them.” But “amazed” is neither a positive nor a negative word. I can be amazed at an acrobatic catch in a football game or at how horrible the food is at a restaurant. I suspect that the shepherds received quite a few responses that went along the lines of: “That’s amazing; ridiculous, but amazing.” Others probably said, “Get off my stoop, you mangy shepherd.”

In the end, we are privy only to one response, and that is Mary’s. She commits the shepherds’ news to memory and considers it carefully. Another translation renders this as “Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Think about it. Mary has just given birth to the Son of God. For nine months, since the angel appeared to her on that fateful day, she has carried the Incarnate Word within her, the physical embodiment of God’s good news to the world. Then she delivers him. But is her body now void of this Word? Thanks to the shepherds, no. They bring the first message of the Gospel back to Mary and she fills herself with the good news again.

Each of us bears the Gospel inside of us. The good news of Jesus Christ is treasure hidden in our hearts waiting to be shared. So go out and proclaim with the shepherds. Glorify and praise God because Christ is born.

…Praying For…

Dear God, you have given me the gift of pondering in my heart the call you have placed within me. Help me to discover that call and move it from its interior resting place to its active phase in my life. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.

…Sending Out…

I leave this moment with you, God, as living vessel for holding the light of your son, as was the manger on that holy night.

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