The Nativity of the Lord, Wednesday – 25th December 2019 — Gospel: Lk 2,15-20 (Dawn)
Peace for the marginalized
The marginal location of Jesus’ birth renders it accessible first to the shepherds. Jesus had been announced to the Shepherds as a Saviour, Christ the Lord (2,11). In the biblical tradition “Saviour” evokes the memory of Moses, God’s instrument in liberating Israel from slavery to Egypt. In the Greco-Roman setting “Saviour” was a title bestowed upon kings and rulers who brought peace and prosperity to their territories. In this manner, the emperor Augustus, in whose reign Jesus was born (2,1), was hailed as Saviour. Because his rule had brought peace – i.e., absence of war, to the entire world. The reader knows that the real author of peace is not Augustus, but God, who guides our feet into the way of peace (1,80). This peace of a different kind was announced by the angels: God’s glory in the highest with peace on earth for those with whom God was pleased (2,14).
The evangelist is not attempting to contrast Jesus as Saviour against Rome in a hostile sense. Rather he claims that the notions of salvation and peace for the divine project are being realized by placing the birth of Jesus in the Roman context. The true peace for which the world longs for can only flow from the divine favour that will be poured out from the ministry of Jesus. The messianic peace which Jesus, the Saviour brings will be ultimately a gift from heaven. It is this peace that the shepherds enjoyed now, when they verified the signs of the Saviour that contrasted Lordship with humble circumstances of his birth. For the shepherds, the announcement and the event were truly good news, and so they wondered and then responded by glorifying and praising God (2,20).
Like Mary, the shepherds were announced of the good news through an angel. Like Mary, they too believed the guidance of an angel. Like Mary, they were obedient to the message from heaven. Like Mary’s sign of her Cousin Elizabeth’s conception, they were given sign of a child wrapped in swaddling clothes. Like Mary who went in haste to celebrate it, the shepherds hurried to the spot to confirm it. Like Mary, they praised and glorified God. In this way there is the hope that God chooses us, like the shepherds and Mary, to share his good news with the marginalized and oppressed for the Salvation of the world.