Gospel: Luke 2:16-21So they came hurriedly, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the feeding trough. On seeing him, they related what they had been told about the child; and all were astonished on hearing the shepherds. As for Mary, she treasured all these words, and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds then returned, giving glory and praise to God for all they had heard and seen, just as the angels had told them. On the eighth day, the circumcision of the baby had to be performed; he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
“She treasured all these words, and pondered them in her heart.”
The Nativity of Jesus is accompanied by various signs and wonders—not least the arrival of shepherds, who report that an angel had instructed them to look for the newborn Messiah in a feeding trough. Can anyone imagine a less auspicious sign of “great joy for all the people” (Lk 2:16)? And could anyone imagine less auspicious witnesses for such an event? While shepherds in the Hebrew Scriptures find favor with God, actual shepherds in the time of Jesus were among the poor and marginal class of people—what one scholar has called “the expendables.” Certainly this encounter itself was a sign—that God’s good news comes in unexpected forms and where we might least expect it. In future years this child would be called many things— Good Shepherd, as well as Lamb of God. His identity would be announced to important people, who would torture and kill him. But in the beginning, it was to certain poor shepherds, tired from keeping watch, rank with the smell of their sheep, that the Gospel of great joy was first revealed. Certainly all this Mary—a poor young woman of the common people—treasured and pondered in her heart.
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