The Shepherds’ Visit
The first who came to pay their homage to the new-born King were the shepherds who were watching in the fields of Bethlehem, and to whom an angel had announced the birth of Christ the Lord. They received this honor because —
1. They were poor, and therefore were well suited to gather round the King Who came to live in poverty on earth. The Eternal Father chose poverty for His well-beloved Son, and therefore poverty must be better than riches. The poor are to be envied rather than pitied, so long as their poverty is not due to their own sin or folly. How many who have saved their souls in poverty would have lost them if they had been rich! Hence, if you are poor, do not regret your poverty, but rather rejoice in it.
2. They were simple of heart, untainted by the world’s deceits. None but good, simple men would have thus come in the darkness of the night, to the stable of Bethlehem, to find their Saviour and their King. God loves simplicity. “If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be lightsome,” says Our Lord, and He thereby describes the happy lot of those whose one aim is to do their work with simplicity for God alone. Is this my spirit?
3. They were shepherds. The occupation is one which God seems to love. The man after God’s own heart was a shepherd. Our Lord calls Himself the Good Shepherd. The apostles’ dignity lies in the fact that they were shepherds of the flock. Every Christian is a shepherd, in that some sheep or lands are committed to his care. Am I a zealous shepherd of the sheep of Christ?
How to begin Heaven on Earth
Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. (St. Matt. vi. 10)
1. In this vale of tears, even the happiest life is misery compared with the life of heaven. Even the perfect tranquillity and peace enjoyed by the saints of God on earth is confusion and trouble compared with the peace of heaven. Yet we can begin even here a life which contains the germ of Paradise. The essential element of heaven is union with God, and those who are united to God by supernatural charity have in them the seed of heaven’s happiness.
2. This supernatural charity does not consist in feeling, or in the absence of suffering, or in brilliant success, or in freedom from temptation. Our life may be one continual cross, one long series of failures as men count failure; we may live in poverty and want, and die unheeded and uncared for; yet such a life may be the beginning of heaven upon earth.
3. In what, then, does supernatural charity consist? Simply in doing what we know to be God’s will in the details of our daily life; in having the thought of Him before us as the guiding principle of our actions, of doing all for Him and not for self. One who consistently leads such a life as this cannot fail to be happy in spite of all external miseries, for he carries in himself the principle which constitutes heaven’s happiness. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!”
Pray for this unfailing compliance with the will of God in all that you do.
[Today’s entry on How to Begin Heaven on Earth is the last of the Great Truths series. Christmas meditations continue through Christmastide.]
This article, The Shepherds’ Visit & How to begin Heaven on Earth – Christmas Meditation Day 7 (Dec 31) is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
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