A Parable in Perilous Times
by Dr. Edith Humphrey

Good Shepherd The Kingdom of heaven is like when a sheep and her lamb were driven by a ravenous wolf off the side of a cliff onto a rocky shelf. Below swirled the water, black like death and cold as ice. There were no sheep down there, as far as they could see.

The mother bleated in the direction of the grass above, hoping she would be heard. And she was answered: a shepherd's cry returned on the wind, filling her with hope. But he was far away and separated from her by a precipice - it was unlikely he could reach them in time.

The mother cried out again: a chorus of laments came from above, a group of shepherds all shaking their heads, looking down, and saying, "Woe to the wolf who has hurt our sheep and her lamb." Some crouched as they surveyed the rocks, some looked for their crooks, and others conferred together, saying, "That is not my sheep." No one started down the sheer side, for fear of being separated from the others. One of them, the leader, warned, "It is not good that the sheep and her lamb are alone: let them return up the cliff forthwith!" The wolf smiled, licked his chops, and continued to lie quietly with the sheepdogs. All this time the shepherd hardly noticed that more from the flock had been startled and were edging towards the cliffs.

But a little lad saw, and cried in a voice to wake the dead: "One shepherd!

"Only one will do! If only one were to climb down, it would be enough! Perhaps one could undo the work of the wolf! If not, at least the sheep and her lamb would not die alone."

Which of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave all and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? He who loses his life shall save it (and the lives of others too.)

Edith Humphrey is Associate Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. An Anglican layperson, she served as Professor of Scripture at Augustine College, Ottawa, Canada, from 1997 - 2002. Prior to her departure, she served as Dean. Before her service at Augustine College, she had an extended career as Lecturer at several colleges and universities in Canada. Her Ph.D. is from McGill University, Montreal in New Testament and Early Christian Origins. Her personal web site is at: http://www.edithhumphrey.net/

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