Herod the Great.
It may be a surprise to you, but the King Herod is called “The Great” by historians. That’s because Herod was one of the greatest builders of antiquity. His works on the Hebrew Temple, both in renovating it and expanding the Temple Mount, are some of the most amazing construction projects ever undertaken. Of course, the Hebrew leaders liked that, as well as Herod’s other concessions for the Jews and their religion. That kept tensions under control. Because although he did great works on the outside, Herod had problems on the inside: murder and paranoia. Another King was needed.
A few weeks ago, I received a hand-delivered letter inviting me to a town dedication ceremony here in Chontal. The works accomplished by the local government leaders were being inaugurated: the paving of the road, and the finishing of the covered community plaza. People who get important letters are people who were collaborators in the work. I thought, why am I invited? I really had nothing to do with it. But, I was told it was a courtesy, so I went.
There was a community walk through the pueblo, admiring the street. Some media folks did some interviews. Then we went to the covered plaza, and there several of the leaders who were instrumental in the works coming to fruition shared some words and stories. They talked about the past, present, and future of the public works for the pueblo. You could tell that they had formed a bond together in their collaboration to make those important works a reality. Afterwards, we all went to have lunch together. It was a nice way to gather, recognize the works done and prepare for the next steps, while solidifying the relationship between everyone involved: collaborators in the works.
Around the same time that I had received that invitation, I also received an invitation to the 9-day Christmas novena before Christmas. So, after the inauguration ceremony in the day, in the evening of the same day, a group of people gathered in the church. Then we walked down the street together singing songs. We arrived at the house of one of the families, where several people shared words and stories. They were about the past, the present, and the future of the community of the people of God. And afterwards, we all ate together some refreshments. What is the point of it all? It’s to gather and recognize the past, see what is in front us in the present, and prepare for the future. And my job was to make sure everyone knew why we were invited: we are collaborators in the works of God.
The public works done in the pueblo are great works. They make life better for the community. On the outside. We also need works on the inside on the person. We need leadership in the works of the heart. So God has given us His Son.
Shepherds and wise men were invited to gather in the first Christmas. There they would recognize their past, they would see their Savior and King right in front of them, and then they could dream of a future. They were called and brought together by God because now they had a leader. They are collaborators in God’s works. Works of the heart.
Our dignity in being invited to the Christmas mystery, however may be our particular way of receiving that invitation and following it to discover Jesus, is in who we are, together. We have a special place in God’s plan.
We are collaborators in His works.
The works of the heart.
“She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Mt 1:21)