Dear Sisters and Brothers,
“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14) This message, announced by the choir of angels, came to poor shepherds who were in the field keeping night watch over their flocks. Although Shepherds were regarded as people living on the fringes of society, it was to them that Christ’s birth was first announced. They were the first to go and witness the simple birth of him who is called wonder counselor, prince of peace, and prophet of the most high. The story of the shepherds prepares us for the life and ministry of Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve, to call sinners and not the self righteous, and to give his life as a ransom for the many. Once Luke finishes with the shepherds he immediately reveals the ministry of Jesus through the prophet Simeon and the prophetess Anna in these words, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted…" (Luke 2:34)
We see in Luke’s Gospel that God’s favor rests on all those who are in need of mercy, kindness, healing, forgiveness, and those who live on the fringes of society. The infancy section of Luke’s Gospel reveals God’s desire to gently caress the human race with his humble birth.
Through you, God’s gentle caress has been felt during this past year toward those who have lost loved ones, been unemployed, hungry, ill, lonely, afraid, victims of natural disasters and domestic violence, acts of terrorism, those who are in prison, those with disorders and disabilities, and all those in need of love and support.
May the favor of God rest upon you this Christmas and through the New Year. May you, like the shepherds, return home, glorifying and praising God for all you have heard and seen.