Good News All the Way
A blog by Rich Harter
Director of Evangelization
Archdiocese of Milwaukee
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.
In the blink of an eye, our lives can be changed forever. Something big happens and instantly the world is a completely different place. Think of things like the moon walk, the collapse of the Berlin wall, Pearl Harbor, September 11th, and school shootings. Ponder the impact of a career choice, marriage, childbirth, unemployment, divorce, and death.
Whether positive or negative, collective or personal, certain events cut to the quick of our souls and rearrange the horizon of our lives. These threshold events are moments of great impact, but their true significance and enduring legacy are defined by our response to them. In a very real sense, our response to the event defines the event itself. Our response actualizes the meaning of the event.
In the blink of God’s eye, human history is changed forever when Mary gives birth to her firstborn son in Bethlehem. In a way like no other before or ever to be, heaven and earth collide. God comes to meet us personally in Jesus our Savior, Messiah, and Lord. Meeting us in simplicity, humility, and poverty, he is wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. The world is now a very different place.
The coming of Jesus is a threshold event of eternal proportion. The angel rightly proclaims this as a defining moment of good news and great joy for all people. But as great as this news is, the moment still begs a response. The lowly shepherds show us the way. They make haste to encounter Jesus and spread the good news to all. They teach us that God’s great news becomes actualized when we seek Jesus in prayer and proclaim him in word and action. This is the way of discipleship.
May our lives be spent praising and glorifying God for the Good News we have heard and seen!