sheep and goat

see Proper 29 (year A)
“the least of these”

detail, The Garden of Eden, Jacopo Bassano, 1570-73

Recently, when the story of the Wise and Foolish Virgins came up in the lectionary, a friend said, “I don’t subscribe to that parable.” I laughed, because the whole spate of recent readings involving weeping, gnashing of teeth, binding hands and feet and tossing poor clueless folk into the outer darkness doesn’t at all sound like Jesus. Jesus sought the company of sinners, tax collectors and other exploiters and cheaters, prostitutes, women and children in general, contagious lepers and losers of all kinds. Would Jesus suddenly turn face at the moment of death?

Nevertheless, I like these doom parables because, like a dream, I see myself in all the characters. I’m both a wise and a foolish virgin, I’m the fellow with the five talents, the two talents, and the one burying the single talent.  I’m the crazy, irrational king that lost his mind over the guest without the wedding garment. I’m always throwing myself out into the outer darkness.

A good story moves the soul to action. I need the threat of the pit and gnashing of teeth to dislodge me from my usual mediocre moral groove. But I also know that the good shepherd leaves the other ninety-nine sheep to gather up the one little lost goat balancing on a crag at the edge of darkness.


2 Responses to “sheep and goat”

  1. Ktown Posse Pal Says:

    “mediocre moral groove” … Amen! And yay for the gnashing and whatnot. As you say so well, I see that I am ALL of the characters in the stories. And I’m all too often that little lost goat. Thanks, Suzanne, as always, for shedding light on the nooks and crannies (and the crooks and nannies!). Oh, and thanks so much for the ART that you select and include.

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