Updated: Jan 29
In the past, I have written about the Aesop fable called, “The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf.” It is more commonly known as, “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”
I feel the need to repeat what I have written about the misinterpretation of that fable, which is said to be: “Liars are not believed even when they speak the truth.”
While that conclusion sounds logical, it is wrong.
In reality, liars are often believed, as they know how to take advantage of the trust people naturally award to others. Thus, liars become bad shepherds who are only not trusted after their lies have come to light. The “moral” of the story about a shepherd boy and the dangers of a wolf coming has nothing to do with lying.
Without reading it aloud, I refer you to the handout on the bus stop bench that retells the fable (according to a preschool website):
“A Shepherd Boy tended his master’s sheep near a dark forest not far from the village. Soon he found life in the pasture very dull. All he could do to amuse himself was to talk to his dog or play on his shepherd’s pipe.
One day as he sat watching the sheep and the quiet forest, and thinking what he would do should he see a wolf, he thought of a plan to amuse himself.
His master had told him to call for help should a wolf attack the flock, and the villagers would drive it away. So now, though he had not seen anything that even looked like a wolf, he ran toward the village shouting at the top of his voice, “Wolf! Wolf!”
As he expected, the villagers who heard the cry dropped their work and ran in great excitement to the pasture. But when they got there they found the boy doubled up with laughter at the trick he had played on them.
A few days later the Shepherd Boy again shouted, “Wolf! Wolf!” Again the villagers ran to help him, only to be laughed at again.
Then one evening as the sun was setting behind the forest and the shadows were creeping out over the pasture, a Wolf really did spring from the underbrush and fall upon the Sheep.
In terror the boy ran toward the village shouting “Wolf! Wolf!” But though the villagers heard the cry, they did not run to help him as they had before. “He cannot fool us again,” they said.
The wolf killed a great many of the boy’s sheep and then slipped away into the forest.” (http://www.first-school.ws/theme/fables/shepherd-boy-wolf.htm)
From basic memory of this story we have all heard before, I want you to realize that the shepherd is always a boy … not a man. Shepherding is a child’s responsibility. Grownups have better things to do than sit and daydream, while sheep graze in a field.
You will recall that David was just a boy when God called Samuel to anoint a son of Jesse. David, the youngest, was not there with his six brothers who were to be viewed by Samuel, because he was too young and he had been sent out to tend to Jesse’s sheep.
Also, on the night Jesus was born in Bethlehem, an angel appeared to shepherds out in the fields. Since a shepherd had (and still has) a subordinate position in the societal hierarchy of times past, fathers sent their sons (even daughters) to do the work of tending flocks. While youthfulness is required, shepherds were usually boys not yet grown to full adulthood.
Still, when we see capitalized words say “Good Shepherd,” our mind automatically sees an adult, bearded Jesus, holding a stray lamb in his arms. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, even though a regular shepherd is just a boy.
Now, rather than a projection of how the shepherd boy is a “bad shepherd,” which is not an accurate portrayal simply because when the wolf did appear he honestly screamed out for help, in my interpretation of Aesop’s fable, the boy shepherd has to be seen as bored and in need of mature guidance. With all the important elements in place: shepherd, sheep, the master’s flock, the villagers, and the threat of a wolf, the mature guidance changes the narrative significantly.
The shepherd boy reflects Jesus Christ, so the master’s sheep become the souls of the villagers, who leave their souls in the care of Christ while they go about their normal lives. This means “the Master’s sheep” are all Christians.
The wolf is then sin, which is an agent of Satan, who loves stealing souls and killing their chances of returning to heaven. In this way, wolves in sheep’s clothing form their own flocks, misleading sheep to follow their voices, being bad shepherds. Children are not fully capable of being bad shepherds, as that role is left for adults who were not taught the proper path to adulthood as children.
Because the cry “Wolf!” came from the mouth of a babe, the innocence here says no lies were the intent. If one wants to call a test or drill a lie, one has drawn the wrong conclusion. If calling out “Wolf!” in order to test the system is lying, then fire alarm drills and Civil Defense sirens being tested is lying to the public.
When did we, as children, begin to think our parents were lying to us about the threat of attack?
Testing is necessary and we adults understand this. When people stop responding to tests, so when the real thing happens no one responds … well, then, you find out how important it is to always respond to a warning call, because test practice makes one vigilant and safe.
In the Gospel reading today we hear Jesus responding to a question posed by a group identified by John as “the Jews.”
They asked, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
Jesus replied, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”
Having heard me draw a comparison to Aesop’s Shepherd Boy; think about this exchange now with a fresh set of eyes.
Can you hear “the Jews” as “the villagers” and Jesus as “the shepherd boy”?
Can you hear the Jews asking Jesus, “How long will you keep crying out “Wolf!” to test us? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly, so we will know if we should ignore your calls.”
Can you hear the words of Jesus being, “I have told you the wolf is always near, and you do not believe. The calls I make I do in my Master’s name. Those calls testify to me as a Good Shepherd of His sheep; but you do not believe and heed the call, because you do not belong to my sheep. The souls of my sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me, as my Holy Mind guides them. I give them eternal life through preparedness, and they will never perish. They always respond, so they are safe from Satan and no one will snatch them out of my hand. The Holy Spirit the Master has given me is greater than anything a bad shepherd can offer, and no one can snatch the Holy Spirit out of the Master’s hand. The Master and I are one because of the Holy Spirit.”
In this story from John’s Gospel, the Jews become so angered that they attempt to stone Jesus to death. They reasoned, Jesus was “a mere man, claiming to be God.” They saw his calls as heresy.
In Aesop’s fable, the anger of the villagers caused their indifference to respond to a real danger call, which allowed the wolf to treat himself to a great many of the Master’s sheep. Full of ruined souls, the wolf then snuck away into the darkness of the forest.
The Good Shepherd escaped unharmed … in both cases. Jesus took his disciples to the other side of the Jordan for the winter; and the shepherd boy of Aesop’s mind was left alive, but with a smaller flock to tend.
In the vision John had, which is written in The Revelation, we hear all the souls that have been saved by the call of the Lamb of God singing out, “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life.” Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God AND he is the Good Shepherd whose voice the souls of his sheep hear and heed. The “water of life” is the Holy Spirit that connects to each of the Master’s souls. As such, the souls of the saved have ignored their “villager” selves and all become led by the voice of the Good Shepherd within.
Each of that “great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands,” was a soul resurrected. They had all ceased chasing after the busy work of the village, and become the children of God.
The boy shepherd was each sheep, so each sheep was led by the Mind of the Good Shepherd. Each sheep knew the danger of not having that love of God within and the voice of Christ guiding them. They are who called out to those still lost … still left behind … crying out, “Wolf!”
The danger is real, even if Satan cannot be seen. He lurks in the darkness … hidden in the forest … watching … waiting … plotting. He is away from the light of the Lord.
The boy shepherd is then like an Apostle of the Father, as a sheep of the Master, led by the Mind of the Good Shepherd. Like we heard Jesus instruct Peter last week, when he told him, “Feed my lambs,” “Tend my sheep,” and “Feed my sheep,” the sheep of the Master are child shepherds, all speaking from the Mind of Jesus Christ.
They ARE Jesus reborn … but they have the innocence of children. No egos or self-aggrandizing of one’s mental capacities can make one holy enough to be THE GOOD SHEPHERD. Only Jesus is that. Only the lowliest of egos will allow Jesus to take control over their actions.
We are mere men (and women) … not allowed to claim to be God. Therefore, “the Jews” were right to know “mere men” cannot possibly be God.
No, that is not Pope Francis when he was a cardinal in Argentina. It is an actor in a movie, thinking he has godlike powers.
However, their souls were not sheep of the Lord, so they could not hear the voice of Christ in Jesus of Nazareth.
The other day, my wife said how it would seem that Jesus would identify as a Socialist, because he went after one lost lamb, leaving the rest behind. She said that disregard of the majority, for the good of the minority, was an element of Socialism.
I told her that no “–ism” can hold a candle to Jesus Christ and true Christianity.
A Socialist is one of philosophical thought, not the Mind of Christ. A Socialist attacks the majority, in order to serve the minority will. A Socialist is a wolf of Satan who threatens all flocks, most of which cannot hear the voice of Jesus Christ.
Listen to how Jesus told the Jews, “You do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.”
Socialists have no religion leading them, thus they reject the notion of being Christians. Socialists do not believe in Jesus Christ. Therefore, they do not belong to the flock tended and fed by the Good Shepherd.
Socialists do not hear the voice of the Lamb or the voice of God, so they do not follow the guidance of the Mind of Christ. Christianity is not their core platform to do GOOD. Because they refuse to answer the call, “Wolf!” Jesus is not their name, and they do not act as would Jesus.
The world can be saved by Christianity; but as the souls who were before the throne and the Lamb “cried out in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”’ no “-ism” can ever save a soul. Christianity is a lifestyle that philosophers attempt to explain … poorly.
People do not save the world through devised plans and written rules, such as, “It is hereby written that a boy will guard all the souls of a village, until which time a wolf is sighted. Then, said boy will cry out loudly, so that the villagers shall run to save the sheep and the boy.”
It may be written as law, but where the heart leads the mind will follow. No one has his or her heart and soul in the written law … especially not lawyers …because one cannot hear the voice of the Good Shepherd leading that law. People are easily bored and begin making up new rules and new games to play.
Still, Apostles cannot save the world either. They simply make themselves available, so others can see there is a different path to be followed. The world can only be saved by God; but the world must actually take steps towards that end. Apostles demonstrate how to take those steps, but each soul must stand and walk alone (inspired by God, as the self’s Good Shepherd).
In the reading from Acts, we see how “a disciple whose name was Tabitha … was devoted to good works and acts of charity.” Tabitha “became ill and died.”
Likewise, there are people in our society that do good works and serve charitably so others can find some solace to life’s pains. Unfortunately, all acts and deeds of mortals are as temporary as the people who do them.
Because Tabitha died, the people whose lives Tabitha had affected mourned her death. This sorrow led for some to call for the Apostle Peter to come, as they knew Peter was a reborn miracle worker. Peter was like Jesus.
Peter came; but it was not he that raised Tabitha back to life.
Peter removed all the distractions from around him and he knelt down, praying to God for guidance. Peter was led by the Mind of Christ to say, “Tabitha, get up.” And Peter was aided by God above, who returned life to a good woman whose name means, “Beauty.”
God sent Beauty back into the lives of others, so that others could be saved through her. Tabitha was resurrected by God, so Tabitha could become a female Jesus, led by the Mind of the Good Shepherd.
By the time John had his vision written in The Revelation; Peter and Tabitha had become two of that great multitude who John saw praising God and Christ in heaven. Heaven is a place where only holy souls can gather. Holy souls used to belong to sheep that could hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and whose lives were washed clean of sins because they heeded the warning call.
During this Easter season, the lessons are designed to show us the call to be added to the flock of the Good Shepherd. We are supposed to learn the value of good works and acts of charity. We are supposed to learn to listen for the call of our Lord.
As souls grazing in the field of our normal lives, we need to hear when our name is called. Our name might be called when we have strayed too far from the flock and are close to being lost. Our name might be called when the sins of Satan are lurking, waiting for us to wander into his grasp.
Easter is when we learn to hear and shout out, “Here I am, Lord. Save me! Tell me what to do!”
Easter season is a time to become dedicated to the Lord, where we consecrate our selves as temples of God. We do that as devoted disciples … willing to learn. We do that through prayer, seeking guidance and repentance. We do that by good works and acts of charity that benefit others.
The life of a true Christian always comes with tests. We must be willing to take all tests, no matter how needless our childish minds see them to be, in hindsight. We must see the truth of Christ, even when others claim our religion is lies. We must learn to pass the tests God sends us, so we too can be clothed in white robes that have been washed clean in the blood of the Lamb.
To reach that point, we must feel assured: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
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