Monday, September 19, 2016

The Parable of the Two Under-shepherds

There were once two under-shepherds, who helped to tend the flocks owned by a kind shepherd. One day, the kind shepherd told his under-shepherds that he needed to travel to the city to buy more provisions for them and the sheep. "While I am gone," said the shepherd. "I want you to divide the flocks between the two of you and care for them. Take them out every morning and bring them in every night. Keep our sheep safe, and I will return in a fortnight."

The first under-shepherd was determined to please his master. Every day, he took the sheep out as soon as the sun peeked out from behind the hillside, determining that this was exactly morning. He brought the sheep back into their pen just as the first star started shining, for this must be night. While he was out in the fields with the flock, he patrolled the edges of the meadow all day. He made sure to guide any sheep that got close to the forest's edge back to the flock. He walked around and the around his little group of sheep.

The second under-shepherd also wanted to do his job well. Every morning, he lead his part of the flock to a meadow to graze. He wasn't very good at singing, as other shepherds are, but he loved to dance, and he would dance for his sheep. He bandaged the legs of sheep who cut themselves on rocks or fallen branches. He took the sheep to a delicious stream fed from a mountain spring.

Finally, the shepherd returned from the city. He called his under-shepherds to him to report on how they cared for the sheep.

The first under-shepherd said, "I did exactly what you asked. Every morning, I lead the sheep out of their pen just as the sun came up. Every night, I gathered the sheep into their pen just as the first star shone. I patrolled the meadow while the flock grazed, and I kept the sheep safe."

The second under-shepherd said, "I didn't know exactly what you wanted, but I knew that you love our sheep. So I danced for the sheep. I bandaged their wounds. I took them to drink in a sweet mountain stream."

And which did the shepherd praise more at the end of the day?

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