When She sees Him lying still on the ground, Mary, who has been watching from the doorstep smiling, shouts: ‘ Jesus, Jesus! Get up! Don’t lie down like that! Your Mummy does not want to see You dead! ‘
Jesus gets up smiling, runs towards Her, and kisses Her. James and Judas also come down and receive Mary’s caresses.
‘How can Jesus remember that canticle that is so long and difficult and all those blessings? ‘Asks James.
Mary smiles and answers: ‘His memory is very good and He pays a lot of attention when I read. ‘
‘I too, at school, pay attention. But then I get sleepy with all the hubbub… shall I never learn then? ‘
‘You will learn, be good. ‘
There’s a knock at the door and Joseph quickly walks across the orchard and the house and opens it.
‘Peace to you, Alphaeus and Mary’ Joseph greets his brother and sister-in-law, who have left their rustic cart and healthy looking donkey waiting in the street outside.
‘And to you, and blessings!’
‘Did you have a good trip?’
‘Very good. And the children?’
‘They are in the garden with Mary.’
But the children have come to greet their mother. And so has Mary, holding Jesus by the hand. The two sisters-in-law kiss each other.
‘Have they been good?’ asks Mary of Alphaeus
‘Very good and very dear’ answers Mary. ‘Are the relatives all well?’
‘Yes, they all are. They send You their regards. And they have sent You many presents from Cana; grapes, apples, cheese, eggs, honey……
And….Joseph?….I have found just what you wanted for Jesus. It is in the cart, in the round basket.’ adds Mary of Alphaeus, bending over Jesus, Who is looking at her with His eyes wide open.
‘…….Do you know what I have for You? …..Guess.’ she asks, kissing His two strips of blue sky.
Jesus thinks, but He cannot guess……perhaps deliberately so as to give Joseph the joy of giving Him a surprise. Joseph, in fact, comes in, carrying a large round basket, lays it down on the floor in front of Jesus and unties the rope holding the lid in place and lifts it….and a little white sheep, a real flock of foam, appears, sleeping in the clean hay.
‘Oh!’ exclaims Jesus, joyfully surprised and happy. He’s about to rush to the little animal but then turns round and runs to Joseph, who is still bending down over the basket, kisses and thanks him.
The two little cousins look with admiration at the little creature, which is now awake and lifting its little rosy head, bleating, looking for its mother. They carry it out of the basket and offer it a handful of clover and it browses, looking around with its mild eyes.
‘For Me! For Me! Thank you father!’ sings Jesus joyfully.
‘Do you like it so much!’
‘Oh! Very much!’ White, clean….a little lamb….Oh!’ And He throws His little arms around the sheep’s neck, lays His blond head on its little head and remains thus, happy.
‘I brought two more, also for you’ says Alphaeus to his sons. ‘But they are dark. You are not quite so tidy as Jesus and your sheep would always be untidy if they were white. They will be your herd; you will keep them together and so you will no longer loiter in the streets, you two little rascals, throwing stones at each other.’
Judas and James both run to the cart and look at the other two little sheep, which are more black than white, whilst Jesus takes his sheep into the garden, gives it some water to drink and the little pet follows Him as if it had known Him forever. Jesus beckons to it and calls it “Snow” and the sheep bleats happily in answer.
The guests sit at the table and Mary offers them some bread, some olives, some cheese and a jug of liquid of a very pale colour which might be cider or some water sweetened with honey.
The adults converse whilst the three boys play with their pets that Jesus wants gathered together so He can give them water and a name.
‘Yours, Judas, will be called “Star” because it has that mark on its forehead…….And the name of yours will be “Flame” because it has the blazing colours of certain withering heathers.’
The adults are talking and Alphaeus says ‘I hope I have solved the matter of the boys’ quarrels. I got the idea from your request, Joseph. I said to myself: “My brother wants a little sheep for Jesus so He may have something to play with. I will get two more for those naughty boys to keep them quiet a little and avoid continuous arguments with other parents over bruised heads and skinned knees….with the school and with the sheep, I will manage to keep them quiet.” But this year, You also, will have to send Jesus to school. It is time’
‘I will never send Jesus to school.’ says Mary resolutely. It is quite unusual to hear Her talk thus and even more so, to hear Her talk before Joseph.
‘Why? The Child must learn to be ready in good time to pass His exam when He comes of age…’