Miracle in Our Midst

 

Angel to shepherds in the field ~ Art by Carl Bloch

Angel to shepherds in the field ~ Art by Carl Bloch

The oxen and the mules who silently witness the birth of the child in Bethlehem may be wiser than we, who like to talk the divine to pieces. Before the miracle of Christmas, only silence is appropriate. Even if some words are said, they do explain that which cannot be explained; they can only attempt to convey that the mystery of Christmas is totally unfathomable.

The shepherds in the fields surrounding Bethlehem experience something wonderful when the angels appear in shining glory, proclaiming what has happened. For a moment, all of heaven comes near to earth. But angels soon leave, and the night becomes cold and dark once again.

Yet something definitive has changed in the hearts of the shepherds. They leave heaven behind them in order to seek out the sign promised by the angels. There is nothing exceptional about the child they find, and the glory of the Lord which they saw in the field is hidden here in the shoddy stable and manger in which the child lies.  It is all so ordinary.

There have been many wonders and miracles in the history of Christianity. But when the incredible happens—when God becomes human—it takes place in the utmost simplicity, without a stir. No special wonders are needed. The incarnation of God is itself the great wonder. A miracle so great and astounding that not even eternity is enough to understand it. But to God it is so self-evident and natural that he has no need to make anything of it.

~ A Christmas meditation by Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D.

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