One Christmas Eve, while on pilgrimage to Israel, my husband and I took a memorable walk to Bethlehem from Shepherd’s Field. This is the field that remembers the sacred place where the shepherds—that group who were considered so unclean that their testimony was not honored in court—saw the angel, who entrusted to them the greatest news in the history of the world. Then the heavens opened and they saw “a multitude of the heavenly host” praising God.
Ben and I decided to follow their footsteps from Shepherd’s Field that Christmas Eve afternoon. We “went in haste” those three miles, which gradually got steeper as they led to the Church of the Nativity. Breathless and with hearts bursting, we entered the church which, at Midnight Mass in ten hours, would be packed with pilgrims from around the world. But at this moment we were alone. We climbed down the dark stairs that led to the ancient cave where the shepherds found “Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.” Then those shepherds, those “outlaws”, testified to them what they had been told about Jesus.
What peace we felt there in that cave on that Christmas Eve. As we walked out into the December chill we promised to increase our own testimony of Jesus, and to work harder for peace on earth, and goodwill towards all.
Are there places in your heart that can’t embrace a God who has love for all people?
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I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).
Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015