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Homily for 1/6/13 - 1b4nat - The Shepherds

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  • Fr David Moser
    Luke 2:1-20 The first witnesses to the birth of Jesus Christ, other than the righteous Joseph and the virgin Mary were shepherds who were watching their flocks
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 6, 2013
      Luke 2:1-20

      The first witnesses to the birth of Jesus Christ, other than the
      righteous Joseph and the virgin Mary were shepherds who were watching
      their flocks nearby. While they were watching their flocks, an angel
      appeared to them announcing the birth of the Messiah and that angel was
      joined by a whole choir of angels glorifying God. The place where the
      shepherds were watching their flocks is called Beit Sahour and it is a
      little east of Bethlehem about 2-3 kilometers away. It was a place
      revered from antiquity for the patriarch Jacob and his wife Rachael had
      come here and this was also among the lands of Boaz and Ruth. This place
      belonged to the family of Joachim and Anna, the parents of the Virgin
      Mary. In this place the shepherds were grazing their flocks that night
      and they came from their field to the manger cave in Bethlehem to see
      the thing which the Lord had made known to them. There they bore witness
      to a great wonder, the incarnation of the God/man Jesus Christ as a
      newborn baby.

      This field, this sheep pasture, is the place where the great news of the
      incarnation was first proclaimed to the world. It was told not to kings
      or rulers, not to the wealthy and powerful, not to the scholars and
      religious leaders – but to shepherds. These simple shepherds were the
      ones first called to become witnesses to the birth of the God/man Jesus
      Christ. In this manner we see the deep humility of the Son of God for in
      coming to this world He came in the most humble of circumstances, being
      born in a cave which served as a shelter for livestock and having as His
      first witnesses the simple shepherds who watched their flocks nearby.
      The shepherds proved to be worthy of their calling for they began
      telling others what they had heard from the angels and went to find the
      child of whom the angels had spoken. Upon finding the Virgin and her
      Child, they again told how the angelic host had come to them and
      proclaimed to them that this was indeed the Messiah, the One Whose
      coming had been promised by God as the Savior of mankind. This news they
      also told to everyone they encountered so that even from the moment of
      His birth becoming the first heralds of the coming of Christ to the
      world. The news of His coming had been spread to the world first by the
      report of these shepherds.

      The shepherds themselves were deeply touched by what they had seen and
      heard. They became from this moment believers in Jesus Christ and they
      remained in the place where they had been visited by the angels even
      until the end of their lives and beyond. They were buried in a cave on
      the spot where the angels had appeared to them. To this day their graves
      are venerated by the faithful who come to visit and pray in the Church
      built over the place of the appearing angels.
      The voices of these shepherds persist for us even today, proclaiming the
      good news of the coming of the Messiah to us. We hear their report today
      as though it were the very first night of the birth of our Lord Jesus
      Christ. We hear the words of the angels from their lips and the
      proclamation, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great
      joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the
      city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a
      sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes,
      lying in a manger.”

      Like the shepherds, hearing these words, a desire to see this great
      miracle flares up in our hearts and we come to find Him. We come here to
      this Church, to this place which in spirit is linked to the cave of the
      Nativity in Bethlehem and here we encounter a great miracle – we
      encounter God born as a man, a babe lying in a manger. In this child we
      see the fulfillment of the promise of God that we will be delivered from
      our sins, that He will take us to be with Himself. When we truly
      encounter the God/man Jesus Christ, we are not left unchanged. First we
      are filled with wonder that God should humble Himself and come to us so
      that we might be delivered from our sin. Seeing Him come to us, we are
      filled with love for Him because we see His great love for us. Having
      been thus touched by Him, we are now linked to Him throughout our lives
      and our every word, our every deed becomes a proclamation of His love
      and the promise of our salvation.

      Today again we stand on the verge of the feast of the Nativity of the
      Lord. Like the shepherds we await the coming of the Lord. Suddenly, the
      heavens are opened and the good news of the birth of the God/man is
      proclaimed to us by the angel. This is such a great miracle that even
      the heavens cannot remain silent but it is filled with the choirs of
      angels singing the praises of the God/man. Hearing their praises we too
      are filled with the desire to come to Him and to be joined with Him and
      to join in the angelic hymns singing along with them, “Glory to God in
      the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!”

      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org
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