By Bishop Michael Morrissey
Bishop of Geraldton
In Luke’s Gospel, these words were spoken 2,000 years ago to a group of shepherds in the field as they were sleeping or protecting their animals from danger.
Their world was turned upside down by this greeting as they gazed into the night deciding what to do next.
What amazes me is that the same greeting still attracts people to seek out Jesus.
People of all walks of life, situation and circumstance are seeking and searching in order to find and bring meaning to their lives. What happens at Christmas through the whole mystery of the Incarnation, people quickly forget being afraid and seek out Jesus as did the shepherds on the first Christmas night.
There is something about Jesus, his life and story that draws us to the beginning of his life among us. There is a desire to come close to families and friends at that time of the year. Many never get tired of recounting the story and often feel better for the encounter.
I was reading a brief meditation on the Gospel of Luke from the Madonna Magazine a few weeks ago where Jesus asked “Is it against the law to cure on the Sabbath or not?
The meditation encouraged me to move beyond my own world view of how things should be done to listening and understanding what might be happening in people’s lives and situations. The Shepherds took the risk to listen and look around until they found Jesus in the manger at Bethlehem.
Why not be like the shepherds and gaze in to the night sky at Christmas and see the heavens? When I was in Mullewa, Parishioners often spoke of Dean Lynch encouraging them to look at the stars many years earlier than my time there in the parish.
Maybe Dean Lynch developed a love for the stars from growing up on a farm at Three Springs. The seventh Gift of the Holy Spirit immediately comes to my mind, “Wonder and Awe”.
The experience of the Shepherds was “Wonder and Awe” which lead them to move beyond their world in to a world of hope and joy. When we are open to the mystery of God, something happens. Our family, friends and our neighbour become visible to us with their hopes, joys, difficulties, and sadness’s, disappointments and questions.
The witness of the Shepherds is a call to listen and hear what is happening around us, to let go of those things that hinder relationships or that which builds up misunderstanding or fear in people’s lives.
As we celebrate Christmas and move into 2018, may you have the gift of faith, the blessing of hope and the peace of Christ’s love and Christmas and always.