Gospel Reflection: We have been told
By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
It may seem strange at first to focus on a fragment of a sentence. But this fragment is repeated three times in today’s Gospel text. So, it must be the central message for us. It is what we are meant to remember. Luke is a good teacher. Repetition, they say, is the most effective way to teach.
The shepherds, we are told, “went in haste” to Bethlehem after they had seen and heard the angels announcing the birth of the Saviour. Mary too had “traveled in haste” to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, after she heard that the Saviour would be born of her. It seems that in both cases, the “message that had been told them” causes the hearers to quickly respond to it.
When the shepherds arrive and see “Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger,” they retell “the message that had been told them.” Those who hear the message “were amazed by what had been told them”. Then the shepherds return home, “glorifying and praising God” because what they had witnessed was “just as it had been told to them.”
Like the shepherds, we have heard the message they heard. But unlike the shepherds, we have not been able to verify it in the same way. Therefore, the insistence on the fact that “what had been told them” was indeed true is our verification.
Sometimes we have to admit that we are bored and unmoved by the message we have heard. We seem so far removed from the stories that meant so much to the people involved in them. Let us ask the angels of the Lord to help us hear the message with new ears, with a new heart and allow it to move us.
Let’s remind ourselves of that message right now: For you, for me, for us, a Saviour has been born.
This message was so powerful that it catapulted Mary and the shepherds to respond immediately and with haste. There was no time to lose—they had to do something with that message. Similarly, if we allow the message to “move” us, we will be able to see and hear that the “message that we have been told” is indeed true. Where will we know it? We will know it in our hearts, just like Mary did.