O Come, Let Us Adore Christ Our Lord!
“Adoration is the first attitude of man acknowledging that he is a creature before his Creator,” notes the Catechism (2628). In adoration we exalt the greatness of God and express gratitude to Jesus Christ for reconciling us to God in the mystery of his Paschal death and Resurrection.
Saint Luke’s Gospel tells us that the good news of God’s reconciling the world through his Son came first to simple shepherds in the midst of their ordinary work. As they kept watch over their flock at night the shepherds were the first to hear of the birth of Jesus, announced by a host of angelic choirs. At the astounding news, the shepherds’ humble work transformed into prayerful adoration as they left their fields to adore the newborn Jesus in the blessed company of Mary, his mother, and Joseph, his guardian and protector.
It is this Gospel moment that the talented Venetian painter, Giorgione, captures in this beautiful sixteenth-century scene of the adoration of the shepherds. While Florence was the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, the arts flourished equally in the city of Venice. Of particular interest to Venetian artists was the beauty of the natural world. So they painted Gospel scenes set in vibrant landscapes of green meadows, rocky hills, and winding streams. In his remarkable vision, Giorgione sets the Gospel scene of the adoration of the shepherds in a rich landscape of rolling fields contrasted against a rocky cave that comes alive with the good news of the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ.