Saturday, January 3, 2015

Testimony of the Shepherd

Did you hear the trumpets? Did you see the angels? Over the green hills before the thin sheet of night, they stood, brighter than the many pointed stars, and they sang. You didn’t hear the angels singing? Did you see the sheep scatter? Were you even there? They splashed across the pasture like an ocean squall startled in all directions but only briefly; after the trumpets, they laid meekly in their places across the tired earth, and we listened, and the angels sang like I was telling you, a chorus clear as crystal. Their voices went forth, curriers on horses of light, their voices galloped through the tall grass though not hastily towards the horizon, no they stayed close circling us, close like our sheep nuzzling up to us, like the fleece we wore on our backs, like a warm breeze off the sea moistening the backs of our necks. I could feel their song on my face, and my heart began to lift, and I thought, my God, can it be true?

Can it be true about the baby and the swaddling clothes? And then we were there. Bethlehem. The City of David. You didn’t go? Your crazy. You really didn’t come? Then you didn’t see the Messiah. You can’t know how sad your heart must be. He was there, swaddled in the arms of a girl with the softest cheeks—her husband behind her with his weathered eyes and the little lungs of the Messiah pulsing. I knew, there on my knees among the beasts scattered in hay of that manger, that those little lungs wouldn’t stop till all men were drawn to him. And I thought, what nobler purpose could my shepherd’s staff bear? What greater joy should my feet have than to pasture more than just these Judean hills? These thoughts dripped over my heart as I took in his little face, the pale of his lips. Then my gaze moved to the depths of the girl’s joyful eyes and she nodded. She nodded with a silence that confirmed every movement of my intuition. And I promised them—each of them—from the man to the babe—I promised them my love and devotion and my service, but all I have is a voice, I said with hat in hand, though on my word I will see to it that this voice goes out to the ends of the earth. The man nodded. The girl smiled. The Messiah slept. I kissed his foot, put on my hat and I walked. Until morning wrapped itself around me and the hills became stepping stones beneath my feet and my voice covered them like wildlife, I walked.

Have peace, my friend, morning has come, I’d say to one. Arise, young man, the savior is here! Little girl, go out to see him. Gather, Israel, under his wings. The Lord is hear and he is called Jesus. Jesus, I tell you, his name is Jesus. Give him time to grow, I say to you, but be ready, I say, be ready. Everything is about to change.

So says the shepherd to whom the angels came, for whom the veil was parted. In Bethlehem of Judea, in the time of Augustus, in the time of peace when the trumpets sounded and the mountains leapt like rams and the hills like yearling sheep, I was there and I bear witness.

+ Br. Joseph Michael Fino, CFR
Yonkers, NY
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