The angel said, “Do not be afraid. Listen, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” And suddenly with the angel there was a great throng of the heavenly host, praising God and singing: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to all who enjoy his favour”.
The great Christmas season is upon us. With Christmas on a Sunday, Advent has been the longest it can possibly be. Even so, Christmas Day always seem to come at us with a great rush. I suppose that is the same with any birth; nine months of expectation burst into a frantic labour of activity. Given that Christmas is about births, no wonder then, that no amount of preparation can save us from the urgency of the approaching festive celebration.
The nativity scene above, called The Adoration of the Shepherds, is by 16th century Italian artist, Annibale Carracci. The luminous Christ-child is in the centre, while Mary and one of the shepherds share a wondrous gaze. Mary holds the white cloth of swaddling clothes, hinting at the garment which would be used to bury Jesus after the crucifixion. Joseph stands behind, ever vigilant as protector and guard. The young shepherd boy on the left directs our gaze to a donkey, reminding us that the wood of the manager would become the wood of the cross. The Christ-child eyes are directed beyond the donkey (one which Jesus would ride on into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday) and the ox (a sign of sacrifice), perhaps looking toward the future events that these two animals signify. Meanwhile, the angels playfully sing a song of praise above the fray.
It is an illuminating image that connects Bethlehem with Jerusalem; birth, life, death and resurrection. We are reminded that there is a bigger story here. We celebrate Jesus’ birth because of his death and resurrection. We celebrate that Jesus is born. We rejoice even more so that Jesus is among us still. Our lives are caught-up in this bigger story. As we give thanks for this feast of Christmas, let us do more than remember Jesus’ birth. Let us look for signs of Jesus’ life among us. As we gather with our own families and our parish family, may the joy and blessing of the nativity fill our hearts and our world with a luminous light that never fades. I wish you every joy and blessing for the Christmas season!
|Jan 13, 2017||The Nativity of the Lord (Year A) 25.12.2016||Listen||Download|