The Gospel for the Mass at Dawn for the Nativity of the Lord is Luke 2:15-20.

Responding to the miraculous appearance of the angel who announces Christ’s birth and the wondrous apparition of an army of angels who praise God, the lowly and rough shepherds who kept watch over flocks at night hasten to find Christ.

Arriving in Bethlehem, the shepherds located the Holy Family amidst the animals in a stable, built in the shelter of a cave. Overwhelmed, the shepherds described in-depth the fearsome appearance of the angel, the announcement that Christ was the long-awaited Messiah and the awe-inducing sight of army of angels worshipping God; while it is unclear who else was present besides the Holy Family, all wondered (to be astonished – “to be thunder-struck”). However, rather than being astonished, Mary quietly observes God’s miraculous acts and mediates deeply upon them in her heart.

The shepherds, men who were poor, coarse and at the bottom of the social ladder in Israel, have experienced supernatural experiences that fill them with awe. After being terrified and fascinated by an army of angels, the shepherds are then awed to be in the Presence of the Lord, the Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph, the holiest of men. Afterwards, they leave, transformed from the most lowly of men to being witnesses to the Incarnation, the first to begin to spread the Good News of Christ’s birth.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ’s birth is miraculously announced to shepherds, filling them with both fear and joy and compelling them to search and find Christ in Bethlehem. Son of David, Christ is born in David’s home town of Bethlehem as prophesized in the Old Testament. Son of Joseph and Son of Mary, Christ trusts His earthly care.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Marvel at how the Father sends angels to shepherds who come to Mary and Joseph and give them the great consolation of knowing that their child is Christ the Lord and that an army of angels are praising the Father for Christ’s birth.

2) Luke’s use of the phrase, “But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart”, confirms that his source for the details of the early life of Jesus was Mary herself; only Mary could reveal her meditative response to the birth of Jesus. Slowly read Luke’s Infancy Narrative (Luke 1-2) and be awed that they are the Virgin Mother’s own recollections of the early days of the Incarnation.

3) Mary must have also pondered with great awe the mystery that she was not only the Mother of God but remained a virgin. Ponder the Perpetual Virginity of Mary (CCC 495-511) and pray for Christ to help your awe increase your faith.