Guide to Goodness

Preparing Your Heart for Christ – The Shepherds Perspective

It is December. Our homes are decorated by now, the tree is up, the lights are strung, presents are brightly wrapped. These are the tangible signs of Christmas.

During this second Sunday of Advent, we contemplate love. We wait for the most beautiful love story in history to unfold. How cool is it that our divine Creator devised a rescue plan to become human so we can be fully alive and free? He loved us, the world, His creation so much that He gave His only Son. Such goodness and the true meaning of Christmas.

During this time of discerning and yearning, let us contemplate what love means and its transforming power and goodness. Love is a superpower each of us holds within us. It is the true essence of who we are and how we are called to treat each other, yet we have often strayed away from love. It is an action we are called to perform. Love, even for our enemies, is the key to the solution of the problems of our world. Love is our deepest identity. How much simple love is in your heart?

As we get ready for the birth of love itself in Jesus Christ, let us take the necessary steps to prepare our hearts and minds. What if we bring out the creche or nativity scene and place it where it can be seen and, if the moment is right, contemplated. What if, in the Spirit of the season, the creche characters began to talk? What if they asked us questions to bring home our faith, to encourage us into gratitude and commitment? And if they call us to love, how would we answer?

The Shepherds

We are the shepherds.

We stand watch at night

and care for the sheep.

Vigilance is our game.

That is why

when the angels on high came

with the news of the newborn,

we knew what we had to do.

A child was born to us, they said,

to our keeping.

Of course,

we would watch over him.

We brought the sheep

so he would feel at home.

The angels said the child had titles –

Savior, Messiah, Lord.

But it was not the titles

that moved us.

It was angels’ song –

bursting words of God’s glory

manifesting as peace among people.

They touched a place of good will in us,

a place where spirit,

unable to be contained, overflows.

We ran to find him.

And we did.

We found what the angels said –

a child wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.

But the angels did not tell us

what the finding would do to us.

How green pastures and restful waters

would calm our minds,

how the valley of the shadow of death

would lose its terror,

how we knew we were known by name

and held by love,

how we, the shepherds,

would suddenly become the sheep

because the Good Shepherd

had arrived.

We are in your creche

because our destiny

is to invite you to experience

what happened to us.

Where do you find peace?

The perspective of The Shepherds was originally published on December 8, 2019, written by author and theologian John “Jack” Shea for Catholic Extension. Smitten With Goodness exists to shine a light on goodness. The presence of the Catholic Church is a guiding light in many places darkened by poverty and conflict. Catholic Extension uplifts faith communities and supports individuals who bring the light of Christ to the most forgotten areas of our country, and you can support their mission here

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