The Shepherd Boy’s Flute

shepherd-boy-with-fluteThere is a Scandinavian legend about a shepherd boy searching for a lost lamb on the night Jesus was born. The legend was adapted by Dan Lindholm from the book, Christmas Roses: Legends for Advent.

According to the legend, a shepherd boy is searching for a lost lamb in the hills above Bethlehem, when the skies open up, and singing is heard. An angel appears before him and tells him of the baby born in a stable in Bethlehem. The angel explains that the child is the “Savior of the World.”

The shepherd doesn’t have a gift to offer to the “Savior of the World,” and the angel gives him a shimmering flute to play for the child. The shepherd puts it to his lips, and it plays almost by itself with seven clear and pure notes.

The boy starts running down the hill to go to Bethlehem, but he trips and falls, the flute falls from his hands, and he utters some bad words. When he picks up the flute, one tone is missing – there are 6 left. He continues, but a wolf appears in the path. The boy chases off the wolf by throwing the flute at him, but when he picks up the flute, another tone is gone. He comes onto the plain where the shepherds had camped, and finds one sheep running around away from the flock. He runs after it, and again throws the flute when the sheep tries to escape. The flute loses another tone.

Now he can’t find the other shepherds, and he thinks they have gone to town to drink and gamble. He doesn’t know that the other shepherds have already gone to Bethlehem to see the Christ Child. So, in his anger at them, he kicks a water jug, and as if by an invisible power the flute is knocked out of his hand. Another note is gone.

When he gets to Bethlehem, some street urchins try to get hold of the flute, and he fights them off. By the time the night watchman restores order, another tone is gone. Then he sees the stable with the bright star above it, but as he approaches, a vicious guard dog springs at him, and he ends up fighting off the dog with the flute. So, when he steps inside the stable, he only has one tone left of his gift. He feels very ashamed.

In his simple heart, he did not know that every man’s path to the Savior is like this. Mary beckons him to come near, and he plays the one tone. Mild and clear it sounded for the child, Mary and Joseph, the ox and the ass, – and everyone who was in the stable listened and wondered. The Christ child reaches out his hand and touches the flute, and behold, at the same moment, it became just as it was when it was given to him by the angel – full toned, whole and pure.

This beautiful tale from Norway highlights an important dimension of Christmas. Jesus comes to restore us to wholeness, to completeness. He comes to reconcile us, one to another, and all of us to God. He comes to show us how our lives can be most fulfilling and meaningful. The Child of Bethlehem comes to make our lives a song of life experienced to the fullness, life centered in the goodness of God.

“Jesus of Bethlehem, come and restore to our souls the notes of the song of your joy. Heal the pain and grief, the divisions and hurts, caused by fear and anger. And make us, in whatever ways we are able, instruments of your song of peace in our own time and place, among our family and friends.”

This week, take time to prayerfully think about your heart and your soul. Do you need to experience the forgiveness of the Lord in the Sacrament of Reconciliation before Christmas? If so, take advantage of the opportunities available at your parish for confession before Christmas.

If you are in the area around Saint John Bosco Parish, you are welcome to come and experience the forgiveness of the Lord at any of the following times. The door will be open and the lights will be on – the Lord is waiting to extend mercy and forgiveness to you!

The parishes of our cluster will gather at Mary Queen of Apostles Parish, 6455 Engle Road in Brook Park, on Monday, December 19th at 7:00 pm for a Communal Penance Service and there will be 7 priests available for individual confessions.

The final opportunities for confession at Saint John Bosco will be this Saturday, December 17th at 2:30 pm, Tuesday, December 20th at 6:00 pm and Friday, December 23rd at 12:00 noon. There will be no opportunities for confession on Saturday, December 24th.

I’d like to extend the invitation for you to join us for Mass on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day at Saint John Bosco.  On Christmas Eve Masses are at 4:00 pm, 6:00 pm and 10:30 pm.  On Christmas morning Masses are at 8:30 am and 11:00 am.  We’d love to have you with us for Christmas!


December 14th, 2016 |