Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | December 16, 2014

A New Fable for Christmas – Sixth Installment

The Gospel of Matthew tells us that an angel told the Wise Men, in a dream, to ignore Herod’s orders and go home by a different route.  This fable puts the shepherd boy and the angel, Jude, in the story.

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Sleep came quickly for Haman. As he’d told Adiva,  he made his bed in the corner of the stable, on a stack of hay.

Jude had told the shepherd that he should rest well, because he had a vital mission to perform on the following day.

Haman woke when Jude touched his shoulder.

“Is it morning yet?” he said.

“Dawn will come soon. With the morning, you’ll have a visitor, the translator, Adiva. She will explain what Melchior and the others need. Don’t worry; I’ll be beside you each step. Now, go get some breakfast, you’ll need it.

The shepherd boy found a food vendor who’d just opened her stall and bought breakfast. He was on the way back to the stable when Adiva rushed past him, heading for the same destination.

“Adiva, stop, it’s Haman! Why are you in such a rush?”

The girl had run past him in her haste, on the still-dim street. When she heard the shepherd’s voice, she stopped and turned back. She began speaking as she walked. Her words stumbled as she spoke.

“Haman! My master and the other scholars need you. They were told, by an angel—in a dream that all three remember—that we must not go back to our country by the same roads we used to come here. The angel said that Herod’s soldiers would be lying in ambush. The wicked king’s troops have been ordered to force the scholars to tell him where the Christ Child is. He means to kill the baby because he fears losing his throne.”

“Where are the scholars and their people now?” Haman said.

“The whole company is awake and loading the beasts for travel, but they don’t know where to go. You said that you know the countryside, please help!” she said.

Haman sensed Jude’s presence beside him. He waited for the angel to speak. When he did, it was only silent words that formed in his mind.

“This is why I told you that you’d be needed. Gabe called out to these men and warned them. He told me that you could show the way to avoid Herod’s men. He told them that a young guide would lead them—that’s you.”

To Adiva, it seemed that the shepherd was considering how to answer her plea.

“Adiva, will your master and his friends trust me to lead them?”

“They saw that you were in the stable with the Holy Family and accepted your presence. They are eager to leave this place. I’ll take you to them,” she said.

Adiva led Haman to the edge of the town. The air was still chilly, but the skies were brightening. She took him to the tent of her master, Melchior.

“Sire, this young man knows the trails and roads around this town better than most people who live here. His name is Haman and he has volunteered to lead our company to a safe passage out of the area,” she said.

The sage’s deep brown eyes were full of questions but his voice was firm. Adiva translated the words.

“Young man, an angel spoke to me and my friends in a dream we shared. The heavenly creature said that a young guide would lead us safely away from Bethlehem to roads that would take us home. Is that you?”

“Sire, I too have seen wonders I would have never expected and I have been told to show you the way to avoid Herod’s grasp,” Haman said.

“Very well, you may ride on a horse at the head of our column. Adiva will ride with you. When we are well on our way, you will be rewarded for your time,” Adiva  translated the man’s words with obvious delight.

For two days, Haman rode a powerful, dappled gray mare with Adiva. The column made its way across barely visible trails through the countryside that only shepherds knew.

Jude walked beside the horse, speaking silently to Haman whenever the route was in doubt.

After two days, the company made its way through a passage in the hills and came to a major road.

“Adiva, tell your masters to take this road to the north. It will intersect with the trade routes some call the Silk Road. Once there, your column will find easy travel to your home.

He slid off the horse and, after squeezing the girl’s hand, made his way back along the column and through the mountain pass, going back to the shepherd’s life without claiming a prize from the magus.

His reward was the knowledge that he had seen the Messiah and heard the angels proclaiming His glorious birth.

He also had made a friend that would stay with him for life.

“Well Jude, you said you’d be with me as long as I needed you.”

“Yes, I will be here any time you need me. You need to know what happened to the Holy Family after we left. I’ll tell you the story on the way.”

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