December 17, 2015: I Want To Be A Shepherd In Bethlehem

~by Susi Pittman

The birth of the Son of God in a small grotto where the field animals found their rest for the night is not at all what the world expected. Shrouded in holiness with the atmosphere filled with the ineffable presence of divinity, God IN the Second Person breathed His first breath on Earth.

The only witnesses to this holy event…Mary, Joseph, the Angels and the animals. Such solitude and holy rest as the Incarnate Word looks upon humankind, the beasts and creation.

So solemn, so invisible was this birth that the herald of the most important moment of all creation had to be carried out in like style. Thus the Angels sought the shepherds in the nearby fields and made themselves known.

The shepherds were most probably resting, having rounded up the stray sheep, joining them back to the flock. The night was crisp and the shepherd dog lay quiet at the feet of his master, according to him the unspoken action that nothing harmful was near.

Then there was a brilliant pin point light piercing the dark sky that caught their attention. As they watched, the light expanded sending rays of geometrically perfect rays throughout the heavens from which emerged a single luminous Angel announcing the good news!

Do not be afraid, for behold I bring you good news of great joy which shall be to all people; for today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign to you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. (Luke 2:10-12)

And with that it was like the doors of the dark skies opened to unimagined vestibules of light and throngs of Angels filled the heavens above all proclaiming to the shepherds in one voice:

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men of good will.

Can you imagine?????!!!!!

What a sight; what sounds and what incredible grace must have permeated every inch of the shepherd’s bodies. They and their animals must have stood in indescribable reverent awe of that which was happening about them.

As the Angels lifted away, disappearing once again into the dark fabric of the sky, the silence and profoundness of the moment must have lingered with them for a while.

As their wits and senses began to collect, their excitement must have burst forth like thunder. Surely they wept and rejoiced and praised God for what the prophets had promised had indeed come to pass.

In response, these “stewards” of the Infant King doubtless gathered their smallest lambs and their shepherd dog and headed for the hillside grotto where the God’s Child, the Baby Jesus lay.

Their eyes fell upon the little body of Jesus filled with Light, and the eyes of Jesus looked back upon them filling their hearts to bursting with the Christmas joy! In that moment surely they realized the great gift that God had placed upon them as the first to welcome His Son into the world AND they most surely received great grace to last a lifetime.

From that encounter, the love and joy that they had received from Jesus could not be contained and they ran straight away into Bethlehem to share with all they met, the great news! They soon returned to Jesus’ side praising God the Father for all that had occurred to them.

This year, I want to be a shepherd, a steward of the birth of Jesus.

Jesus has looked upon each one of us, giving to us the way, the truth and eternal life. He asks each of us to be His hands, His feet and His heart filled with compassion to serve one another and to care for the Father’s great gift of all creation.

What have you done to take the light of Christ to a neighbor?

Who have you comforted with the love of Jesus?

Have you gathered the family together, reading the Gospel of Jesus’ birth, thereby taking your family on a spiritual journey to Bethlehem?

How will you thank and praise the Most High God at Christmas for the salvation given to all the world ?

I want to be a shepherd on the plains of Bethlehem, steward of the Infant King, filled with fervor and love to adore and serve The One who came to serve and save all.

This Christmas, experience true joy! Embrace this heavenly peace that only True God can give and vow to be a shepherd at Bethlehem; arrive at Mass with reverent awe and love. The Infant King awaits.


Susi Pittman is founder of and Owner-President of Twin Oaks Publishing; she is author of Animals in Heaven? Catholics Want to Know!; an advocate for the Florida Catholic Conference; a member of the St. Joseph’s Catholic Council of Women in Jacksonville, Florida; an Associate of the Sisters of St. Joseph, St. Augustine;a member of the Florida Publishers Association, Independent Book Publishers Association, the National Association of Professional Women, the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States and the National Audubon society.



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