As father and son stood side by side in front of the sheep, a bright light whirled across the sky. Both gasped aloud at the sight.
“No, father, I haven’t”
He didn’t know what else to say even though his eyes had been closed for the last few minutes. Joshua often accompanied his father when he watched the temple sheep. It was late at night and now, looking around, he realized there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The moon and the stars were so bright they left a distinct shadow on the ground where he was lying.
“Joshua, I need you to come here and take a turn watching the sheep. One of the ewes has a sore on her leg and I need to clean it and put on a fresh bandage.”
Joshua’s father looked toward his son and grinned. No one could smile like Benjamin. His eyes would narrow in a squint as his mouth turned upward. His whole face seemed to brighten like hot coals stirred by a stick. Joshua loved to see his father’s smile. Like the warmth of the fire on this cool night, he was warmed on the inside by this reminder of his father’s love.
Several shepherds were standing watch with them. For some reason the sheep seemed especially active tonight. They wouldn’t graze in one place for very long. They would eat a little, then run around, jumping up and down and playing like frisky young lambs. Several sets of eyes had to keep watch, that none were able to run off.
Joshua ran up to his father and took the staff from his large left hand. Benjamin towered over the twelve year-old, who was trying to look like a proper shepherd. He had the wooden crook planted firmly on the ground and his eyes were riveted on the fold before him. There was something about this night, he thought to himself. As often as he had been in these hills, something was different. He wondered whether it was the clear sky or crisp air. Perhaps it was the presence of this one large star directly overhead. He wasn’t quite sure.
Benjamin walked around the other site of the acacia tree where he and his son had camped for the night. The old ewe lamb was quietly grazing not very far away. He gently picked her up and carried down the hill toward a fire where some of the other shepherds were warming themselves.
Boredom began to overtake Joshua. He loved being in the hills at night, but watching over these silly sheep was not very exciting. He wanted to run and jump with them.
His father would let him do that at times, but now he was stuck as one of the guards. A howl suddenly broke the silence of the night. “He sounds close,” Joshua muttered to himself. He was not eager to contend with a wolf. Not now, not tonight, not without his father. He shuddered at the thought of an attack. Stiffening his resolve, he tried to stand as tall as he could. He tried to look menacing. Another howl pierced the darkness but this one seemed farther away. “Good,” he thought, “that wolf will live another day since he won’t have to face me.”
Being so absorbed in the small drama that had just taken place, Joshua was not aware that his father had returned.
“Good job, bar Benjamin.”
The words startled him and he whirled around to see his father only a few feet away.
“You surprised me, father. I didn’t hear you coming.”
“I believe you were more interested in the wolf than me. That is good, bar Benjamin; you remained focused on the enemy. Just remember that another could approach from the rear.”
Joshua knew that when his father addressed him as “bar Benjamin” (or “son of Benjamin”) he was complimenting him. He was saying that, as a son, he was fulfilling his father’s role. Another wave of warmth rippled through his insides, just like when his father smiled.
As father and son stood side by side in front of the sheep, a bright light whirled across the sky. Both gasped aloud at the sight. The light was hundreds of times brighter than the stars and traveled quickly from one horizon to the next. The hillside had been lit like the bright of day.
A number of the other shepherds came running toward to tree where Benjamin and Joshua were standing. They had abandoned their fire on the lower hillside to join the two at the top of the hill. Another light, traveling just as fast, shot across the sky in the opposite direction. This time all the shepherds saw it and let out a collective shout. “May the Lord have mercy!” they cried. They had never seen such a heavenly display.
A third time the bright light streamed across the dark sky. It came from behind them and stopped, this time, in front of them only higher; perhaps four times higher than the Acacia tree nearby.
Looking more closely at the light, the shepherds realized there was what looked like the face of a man in the midst of it. Benjamin drew Joshua closer to himself, cover the boy in his own robes. Joshua pulled the linen away from his ...
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Christmas / Advent News
- A Layman's Plea for Tolerance of Catholics
- A Question For The Christmas Season: Do You Want To Become A Saint?
- Every Leader Supporting Abortion is Herod, Every Child Killed a Holy Innocent
- Feast of St. Stephen, Proto-Martyr, Calls us to Reflect on the Gift of Deacons
- Fr. Sly on the Feast of St John in the Octave of Christmas
- Welcoming the Birth of the Redeemer in the Womb: Jesus was an Embryonic Person
- Merry Christmas: Love is Born on Christmas Morn and the World is Born Anew
- Pope St Leo the Great: Christian, Remember Your Dignity
- Pope Benedict XVI: If God's Light is Extinguished, Man's Divine Dignity is also Extinguished
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?