‘Make the most of a prickly situation.’ So proclaimed the New Year T-Shirt.
That struck me as an appropriate response to the message of this day’s readings. If Mary and Joseph had got over the excitement of the birth and then had to face the immediate challenges of a new mouth to feed and body to clothe, then the visit of the shepherds would have startled them. Such men were not always thought of as being ‘good shepherds’… then these strangers from the East, visit and talk about “the infant King of the Jews”. Herod will not like that (and we know what happened in the past to all who sought to take that title from him).
The Psalmist singing “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you”, would not excite the Kings of Persia let alone the Romans…prickles again!
Along comes the phenomenal Paul. His own people, let alone his former colleagues, the Pharisees, would be more than puzzled to hear his words “it means that pagans now share the same inheritance.” That became a real prickle. Even for the great Peter that statement was, for some time, a major prickle. In our own time, Pope Francis is offering more prickles to the establishment whilst the ordinary believer and non-believer alike are in awe at the words (and actions) that come from his mouth.
We all have prickles to deal with.
We have great examples in today’s Scripture on how to deal with the challenges. Each situation is different, but the Spirit that guided then is with us still.
Call on that Spirit first and then you will make the best of the prickle situations.
Have a productive New Year