The shepherds went in haste and found Mary and Joseph,
with the child cradled in a manger.
Liturgy of the Hours, Feast of the Holy Family, Evening Prayer I, Antiphon 3
Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:
“Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.
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 that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.Luke 2:8-20
The Church was born at the manger in Bethlehem, which means “House of Bread,” and the first guests of the Lamb of God were lowly shepherds. The family, the “original cell of social life,” is a “domestic church” when Christ is at its center (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2207 and 2204). The full humanity of the Son of God includes his relationships to his mother and father, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. Jesus, a divine person made man, shows us that to be fully human is to be “a son or daughter of the One who wants to be called ‘our Father’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2212).
The description of Jesus as “meek and mild” comes from the hymn, Gentle Jesus, by Charles Wesley (1742). Although this portrait of the Christ has limitations (see Font of the Beatitudes), it fits the infant Jesus asleep on the hay and in his mother’s arms.
From the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the circle of God’s family grows and expands to the ends of the earth.