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Τετάρτη, 30 Δεκεμβρίου 2020

A Christmas Tale of the Bull and the Donkey

 


A Christmas Tale of the Bull and the Donkey


It was a long time ago. In a distant city in the east that was and still is called Bethlehem.


Once there lived a little bull and a little donkey. Of course, they lived not by themselves, but with their owners. For they were not their own, but their owners' animals.


Everybody knows what life of oxen and donkeys is like. For centuries people have been plowing on oxen, and donkeys have been carrying loads. Even if a heavy yoke rubbed their necks, but big packings on their backs make their legs go apart - you want to do it or not, but you have to graze and ride... And there is no happiness for them, no sense in it, and no light in front. And that made the bull and the donkey's burden even heavier.


They began to think how they could help their grief. They thought and thought and came up with an idea. One day the owners forgot to lock the stable. That's when the bull and the donkey rushed out. Before the owners could even open their mouths, they were already gone. Goodbye, yoke! Goodbye, heavy packs!


The bull and the donkey ran long and short, but they got tired. They saw a cave and climbed up there to rest. Our runaways fell asleep there unnoticed. And when they woke up, it turned out that they were not alone in the cave. While they were sleeping, people appeared in the cave. They were an old man and a meek young virgin. And with them was the beautiful Child, who was born in the cave while the little bull and the donkey slept.


It was night. In the dark sky, in an unreachable height, the stars were shining. One, a particularly bright one, lit up everything around with unusual light. And there was singing. Angels were singing. Because the child who was born in the cave was not an ordinary child, but the God-child Christ, who was born that night of the Virgin Mary. The God-man Jesus Christ, who came into the world to save it from the power of death and the forces of evil. That is why the angels sang, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" (Luke 2:14) And their singing was filled with great joy.


And that joy also illuminated the hearts of the bull and the donkey. It swallowed up all their sorrow and all their grievances. Then it was revealed to them that there is not only mud underfoot, but also stars in the sky. Not just hopeless grief, but happiness. And how they wanted that happiness to stay with them forever!


Then the shepherds came into the cave and worshipped the Child. And then the kings who had come from faraway, unknown lands brought their gifts to Him. And to all of them, both kings and poor people, the Child Christ smiled softly...


With bated breath, the little bull and the donkey looked on from the depths of the cave. They, too, wanted to make a gift for the Child of God. But, alas, they had nothing. Nothing at all. For even they themselves were not their own, but the host's...


And then they thought of what they could give Him as a gift after all:


- From now on, whatever we do, we will do it for His glory. As if we were doing it for Him.


This is the gift that the bull and the donkey gave the Christ child.


And then... Then they went back home to their masters. And they began to do the same thing they did before - to drive and plow. They say they still do to this day. Of course, there are times when the donkey gets stubborn and the little bull shows his horns... But they immediately remember the promise that they made on Christmas Eve, and again eagerly take up their usual work. It no longer seems impossible or useless to them. This is their service to Christ. And with Him, even the hardest work is no longer a burden, but a joy.


Nun Euthymia Paschenko.

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