Today’s Advent Art Meditation is from Luke 2:8-20. Scroll down a bit on the link to the right verse.
The shepherds of Bethlehem knew something about respect…as in they probably didn’t get much of it!
Shepherding was a dirty job. It paid very little, was physically tough, and you probably didn’t smell too good spending all your days and nights with sheep. You lived outside the city walls, away from the “regular” citizens. Sheep are dirty, can’t defend themselves, and aren’t too smart. The shepherd must lead them to food and water. He must keep them away from predators, cliffs edges, snakes and poisonous plants. The sheep rely completely on their shepherd from dawn to the next dawn. God refers to us as his sheep a lot in the bible. Should we be insulted? Don’t we deserve more respect?
We often think we do. Lots of people sit in prisons or otherwise get themselves into bad scrapes over the issue of respect. Perhaps we look for respect in the wrong places. A good shepherd, knowing the dependance his sheep have on him, loves them in spite of their short-comings. He would risk his life to ward off a predator or search night and day for a lost one. Sheep with a good shepherd to lead them should have no fear, except for loss of the shepherd. God sees the messes we get ourselves in to and so he sent his son, the ultimate Good Shepherd, to lead us. Jesus showed even the lowest of us respect.
So the Angels appeared to the shepherds first. Right away the Angels tell them “Be Not Afraid”, even before they laid out the details. God knows how much fear we live with. Then they revealed their surprise: “A messiah has been born to them.” To the shepherds, first, before the kings. It was an exciting moment in the solitary life of a shepherd…of course they went to see.
After the shepherd’s visit, the verse then says, “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.” That just may be the moment she knew her son would turn the world upside down. You know all hell’s going to break loose when common shepherds find respect and solidarity with the newly-born Lamb of God.
This painting can be purchased here.