Historical setting: 589 C.E. a cottage between Annegray and Luxeuil
The stories that seem to go array in the worst ways are those that are most often told. So here we are, three Irish monks, Colleen and Ana and I, gathered around the hearth in Ana’s little room.
Colleen savors the brogue of her native land so it doesn’t matter to her whatever the monks may say. And I wasn’t present for the birth of Jesus so who am I to correct the story they are telling, but it already seems they’ve let go of gospel just to nurture traditions and old, old stories that never even made it past the patriarchs of cannon.
Ana finds the donkey legend added to the story very disturbing.
“She rides into town on a donkey when she is going to give birth nearly immediately?” Ana complains, “Now my same kind of guessing that tells me John was written by a woman is a sure bet that these miraculous birth stories were invented by men. What woman would make poor Mary ride on a donkey?”
We can all concur, surely, a woman in her last month of pregnancy would choose to walk rather than take a long donkey ride. But these stories of a birth are all told in symbols, not sense, and maybe not even fact, though they do keep the truth of it.
Brother Servant offers sense. “That donkey is there to remind us of Jesus’ humble entry into Jerusalem in his last week when he rode on the back of the donkey instead of a horse while the children shouted Hosanna.”
The frustration comes from too much sorting out of detail while groping for truth. Maybe it was the monk’s long night in the stable that gave them such a partiality to the presence of a donkey and of course there also seems to have been a cow.
“So, what about the cow?” asks the same monk who couldn’t let go of the idea of a donkey. “Surely they would have had a cow there.”
“There was no cow mentioned.”
“Mary needed a cow to provide milk for the baby.”
“Milk for the baby,” answers Colleen “would, of course be provided in the very nature of the mother.”
The monk argues, “But Mary was a virgin.”
Everyone looks to Colleen, the experienced midwife among us, to answer the burning theological question just posed.
“Can the mother provide milk in the case of a virgin birth?”
(Continues Tuesday, December 27)
#cow, #Virgin birth issues, #donkey, #Christmas stories,