As we begin these last few days before Christmas I can’t help thinking about the paradox of the season. We’re called to prayerfully reflect on the coming of the Lord. But our celebration of His birth has become so bloated with external activity that we don’t really have the time to celebrate His birth. We’re like a young couple who spends so much time planning the wedding that they forget to prepare for marriage, sometimes with disastrous results.
It reminds me of that first Christmas morning. All of Bethlehem was bustling with activity as of the descendants of David were in town to register for the census. There were no vacancies at the inns, forcing Mary and Joseph into a cattle stall. The most significant event in the history of the world went mostly unnoticed. Everybody was just to busy.
So who did the angels choose to receive the good news? Shepherds! The lowliest, smelliest people of all! Why would they make such an important announcement to such unimportant people? Simple. Such lowly people had no part in all the activity in town. They were doing what they always did. They were alone with their flocks. And sheep are notoriously poor conversationalists.
As my friend Father Bruce Forman once wrote, “God speaks to those who sit quietly and listen.” That’s what the shepherds were doing on that night long ago and that’s what God asks of us. No, we don’t have to all become shepherds. We can have human companions. But we also need quiet time. Even if it’s only a few minutes a day, make time to sit quietly and let God speak to you. You might be surprised what you hear.