After the original fall, humanity was immersed in the darkness of iniquity. But, in sincere and upright hearts, one flame remained: the hope of liberation from the clutches of the devil. This faithful expectation is symbolized well by the shepherds of Bethlehem, who, as sentinels of God, kept watch during the sacred vigil of Christmas.

Indeed, after a hard day’s work, they had to keep watch with confidence until dawn, to prevent any assault by thieves or wolves. Very attentive observers of the stars, they noticed, however, that the sky sparkled in a new way that night. Soon, a luminous Angel appeared to them to announce the arrival of the Light of mankind (cf. Jn 1:4): “Behold, I bring you good news; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (cf. Lk 2:10-11). And he was joined by a multitude of the heavenly host.

After the Angels – shepherds from Heaven – had sung the most resounding Gloria ever heard, the shepherds of earth set out in haste, crying: “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us” (Lk 2:15).

Would the shepherds then have abandoned their flock? No, for they were not only keepers of animals but also, in their hearts, they kept those famous words of the Psalm: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” (23:1). They trusted, therefore, that God would care for their sheep.

When they arrived at the manger, they marvelled at the grandeur of the Divine Infant and became, as it were, His “sheep”, for they saw lying in the manger the Shepherd by definition – the Good Shepherd – who had known them from all eternity and, having become incarnate, was ready to lay down His life for them (cf. Jn 10:14-15).

Christ, for His part, when He calls the sheep to Himself, sends them into warfare, that is, into the midst of wolves (cf. Mt 10:16), for when they are completely united to Him, they will have nothing to fear. Thus, intuiting that the promised Messiah was also a Lamb, and filled with the strength that came from their contact with the Infant-Shepherd, the shepherds immediately went forth everywhere glorifying and praising God (cf. Lk 2:20), like shepherds of souls! They became authentic heralds of the Gospel, and “all who heard it wondered” (Lk 2:18).

Therefore, in a time as dark as ours, as wolves attack the sheepfold from every side and mercenaries masquerade as shepherds, we too are invited to trustfully hasten to the Good Shepherd, certain that He will lovingly welcome us into His divine embrace and protect us from the onslaughts of the enemy.

Like the shepherds of Bethlehem, we are also invited to persevere in confidence until the day when the Lord will separate the goats from His sheep, and there will be just one flock under one Shepherd. Then there will be no more night, for the light of Christ will shine for all eternity (cf. Rv 22:5).


The Child Jesus, the Good Shepherd – Church of the Holy Angel, Cordoba (Spain)


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