Today’s Gospel reading is all about witnesses.
The shepherds – who we heard at Christmas had decided they would go and “see this thing that has taken place” – arrive in Bethlehem in today’s Gospel to witness “this thing that has taken place.”
But whether they realize it or not, they are not only going to witness something for themselves, they are going to themselves be witnesses of something for others – witnesses of their own story of how they came to know about the child in the first place.
And just as the shepherds were amazed to find everything “as it had been told them”, Mary, Joseph, and everyone who heard the shepherds’ story were also amazed. By being witnesses to each other, amazement and wonder filled the hearts of everyone that day. And we are told that Mary continued to ponder all these amazing things throughout her life.
Pope St. Paul VI once wrote: “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”1 Well organized plans and polished delivery may check various boxes, but it will always lack the power to amaze. Amazement is simply a sign of our having encountered God. And it is this encounter with God that alone can call (the root of the word vocation: “vocare” – to call) and commission us to be witnesses.
1 Paul VI, Pope. “Evangelii Nuntiandi.” Accessed December 18, 2022 https://www.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_p-vi_exh_19751208_evangelii-nuntiandi.html