An Early Christmas Story
The shepherd had now grown old but his face
would still glow when he predicted with conviction
that 'the great king, the king of love, will
soon arrive'. His grandson would always strain
his ears to hear every possible detail of
this great advent. And he would ask many,
many questions, "When is he coming?"
"I don't know," the old man would
reply, "but definitely the time is near."
"And where is he coming?" "I
don't know," the old man would answer,
"but certainly not very far away from
here." "And will he have a crown
of gold on his head, like other kings?"
"I don't know. But I am certain of one
thing. He will soon come."
The boy used to daydream a lot about this
king who is coming so soon and so near. And
he would conjecture what kind of gift he
can possibly give to this great king, the
king of love. Finally he hit on an idea.
Given that he enjoyed playing the flute,
he started putting hours and hours of practice
on his instrument, hoping that when the great
king appears, he would be able to play the
most beautiful melody ever heard on earth
just for him! This waiting grew ever bigger
in his heart. His life became an expectation.
So that night when he saw the shepherds hurrying
towards the fields, claiming that angels
had appeared to them and told them that the
king was born, he was overjoyed. Very excited,
he got out of bed, seized his flute and furtively
followed the shepherds towards the place
the angels had indicated to them.
However he was in for a big surprise. The
shepherds did not go in a fantastic mansion
or a huge castle as he had always envisioned,
but instead they entered into a small, muddy
cave. He could see no royalty there, only
a young man and his pretty wife who had just
given birth to a baby boy. The woman looked
weary because of the childbirth and the baby
The boy was very disappointed. The scene
was sweet and loving but he had always imagined
something else. And he said to himself that
perhaps he had made a mistake. He had hoped
in vain. Dreams differ from reality and with
a heavy heart he set off for home. Just then,
the baby started crying even more strongly.
He turned around and went back, pulled his
flute from his rucksack and started playing
the tune he had practised so well in the
past months. The melody was angelic. The
baby listened and amazingly enough, stopped
crying. He closed his eyes and fell peacefully
asleep. His first sleep on earth! But just
before he closed his eyes, the baby looked
at the little boy and … smiled! What a smile!
This smile filled his heart. It re-energized
him interiorly. He went back home elated,
because he understood that he had not hoped
in vain. The King, the King of Love was this
baby. And he realized also that he was the
lucky recipient of His first smile!
This is the real meaning of Christmas. God
the King of Love became man and smiled and
this smile has made us wealthy.
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
granted for any non-commercial use,
that the content is unaltered from
state, if this copyright notice is