by Jamie Phelps, OP, Ph.D.
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent the Only Begotten One, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption. As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of God’s Only Begotten One into our hearts, crying out, ‘Abba!’.” (Galatians 4:4-6)
Continuing the narrative of the birth of Christ, Luke’s Gospel focuses on the shepherd’s response to the proclamation of the angels. They seek Jesus. They find a child lying in a manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, attended by his mother and “father”. The external sparseness and simplicity conceal the deep dimensions of the scene. But the shepherds had stayed awake and heard the proclamation of the angels. This child was no ordinary newborn. The shepherds revealed the concealed by telling the story of the angels’ proclamation: “Do not be afraid, for behold I proclaim to you good news of great joy, that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ” (Luke 2:10-11).
The child is the Savior Christ. Perhaps exhausted by the travel and the pains of labor, Mary heard the proclamation of the shepherds. Perhaps she recalled how their words echoed the angel’s announcement to her. “He will be great and will be called Child of the Most High, and God will give him the throne of David his ancestor, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of its kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32-33).
Mary had much to ponder about Jesus, her husband Joseph, and her own vocation. Mary, this young virgin, had been called to parent Jesus, the Child of the Most High. Mary, this maiden woman, had been called to be “Mother of God”!
God our Father and Mother, help us to contemplate the meaning of your entrance into human history in the person of Jesus. Help us to reflect on how you call and gift people to do your will for the liberation and salvation of your people. Help us to discern how each of us are called and gifted to do your will.
Jesus our Savior, we thank you, we praise you, we bless your holy name!
Hail Mary, full of grace…
This reflection is from Be Watchful and Alert–Seek God’s Spirit in Our World: Reflections for Advent 2008. Jamie Phelps, OP, Ph.D. is a professor of systematic theology and director of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies of Xavier University in Louisiana.