The shepherds are directed by Jesus’ army of angels to worship Him in the humble stable in Bethlehem and become the first witnesses to Christ. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by seeking the Fruits of Peace and Joy by reflecting of Our Lady’s recollections of the birth of her Son and by seeking the Gift of Understanding so he can wonder at the mystery of Our Lady’s perpetual virginity.

Commentary

While lowly and rough shepherds guarded their flocks of sheep in the field at night, a spectacular angel, brilliantly lit up by the glory of God, appears in the sky with a fearsome army (host) of angels who joyously praise God. Seeing the angels, the shepherds are filled with fear, but the angel commands them to not be fearful, but joyful, and reveals that Christ the Lord, the Savior of mankind, has been born, and is in Bethlehem in a manger. Stunned, the shepherds leave their flocks and rush to Bethlehem to worship the Lord.

Arriving in Bethlehem, the shepherds located the Holy Family amidst the animals in a stable, built in the shelter of a cave. Overwhelmed, the shepherds give an in-depth report of the fearsome appearance of the angel, the announcement that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, and the awe-inducing sight of an army of angels worshipping God in the heavens; the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph are given great consolation by the confirmation of the divinity of Jesus. While it is unclear who else was present besides the Holy Family, those present wondered (Greek, thaumazó, meaning “astonished out of one’s senses”; “awestruck”). Rather than being astonished, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Immaculate Conception, born without sin, quietly observes God’s miraculous acts and meditates deeply upon them in her heart. 

The shepherds, men who were poor, coarse, and at the bottom of the social ladder in Israel, experienced supernatural events that fill them with awe (divine reverence, fear). After being terrified and fascinated by an army of angels, the shepherds are then awed to be in the Presence of the Lord, the Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph, the holiest of men. Afterwards, the shepherds depart, transformed from the most lowly of men to being among the greatest men of history: they are personal witnesses of the Nativity and become the first to begin to spread the Good News of Christ’s birth. 

Be awed by Jesus Christ

Saints and holy men have believed that Jesus had a virile and attractive appearance, both through the inherited beauty of Mary, who appears exceedingly beautiful in her apparitions across the ages, and because He closely resembled Joseph so that none would question that Joseph was His father. Consider how the shepherds were blessed to see the Attractive Physical Appearance of the Christ child.

Marvel at Our Lady’s recollections of the Nativity

Realize: Luke’s use of the phrase, “But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart”, confirms that his source for the details of the early life of Jesus was the Blessed Virgin Mary herself; only the Blessed Virgin Mary could reveal her meditative response to the birth of Jesus.

Believe: Reflect upon Luke’s Infancy Narrative (Lk 1-2).

Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Fruits of Joy and Peace as I ponder in my heart the Blessed Virgin Mother’s own recollections of the early days of her Son’s Incarnation. 

Wonder at Our Lady’s perpetual virginity

Realize: The Blessed Virgin Mary must have also pondered with great awe the mystery that she gave birth to Jesus as the Mother of God but also remained a virgin; this mysterious and astounding truth is beyond a man’s ability to come to by his reason alone. 

Believe: Reflect upon the Perpetual Virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (CCC 495-511).

Pray: Holy Spirit, give me the Gift of Understanding so I can grasp and accept the truth of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Perpetual Virginity and grow ever deeper in awe of Jesus and in my devotion to His Blessed Mother.