Gospel Reflections

Feast of the Nativity Dawn

Luke 2:15-20

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Maureen O'Brien

Published: December 25, 2016

Read Luke 2:15-20

When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing... Read More…


Lawrence, Massachusetts where I live and teach English to immigrants at the Notre Dame Education Center is about 75% Hispanic. Since the beginning of November I have seen lots of dazzling and at times overwhelming Christmas displays outside homes here with Santas, snowmen, reindeer, and mini-Nativity scenes. But I’ve yet to see a single shepherd. 

And this intrigues me! I don’t expect my neighbors to change their decorations. Why should they? Every culture has a way of celebrating religious and social feasts. I just want the shepherds to be recognized for their amazing role in the Christmas story.

In the Gospel for Midnight Mass (Luke 2:1-14) and especially during the Mass at Dawn, the Shepherds Mass, (Luke 2:15-20) shepherds are front and center as men on a divine mission, excited about sharing the Good News that the Savior was born. I admire how quickly they responded to the angel’s message after “finding an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manager.”   They didn’t treat it as a secret or try to make money on it.  “They returned glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.”  Who they saw in that manger in Bethlehem and what they heard belonged to everyone.

The Gospel of the Mass of Dawn and the events it describes leave us wanting to know more about the connection between the infant in the manger and the shepherds. This would develop more completely over time. After all, the shepherds and the Savior shared a common job description as found in Psalm 23 and the teachings of Jesus.  

At this moment in the early morning of Christmas Day, it seems enough to remember what Luke wrote in Lk. 2:20: “Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.”

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