Tuesday, December 04, 2007

24 Days of Christmas Part 5

"In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is His name whereby he shall be called The Lord our Righteousness" Jeremiah 23:6

Carol: The First Noel

The Cobbler and His Guest
A yuletide legend, by Anne McCollum Boyles

There once lived in the city of Marseilles an old shoemaker, loved and honored by his neighbors, who affectionately called him Father Martin. One Christmas Eve as he sat alone in his little shop reading of the visit of the Wise Men to the infant Jesus, and of the gifts they brought, he said to himself, "If tomorrow were the first Christmas, and if Jesus were born in Marseilles this night, I know what I would give him!" He rose from his stool and took from the shelf overhead two tiny shoes of the softest snow white leather with bright silver buckles. "I would give him these, my finest work." Then he paused and reflected, "But I am a foolish old man," he continued, "The Master has no need for my poor gifts."

Replacing the shoes, he blew out the candle and retired to rest. Hardly had he closed his eyes it seemed, when he heard a voice call his name... "Martin! Martin!' Intuitively he felt a presence. Then the voice spoke again... "Martin, you have wished to see me. Tomorrow I shall pass by your window. If you see me, and bid me enter, I shall be your guest at your table.

Father Martin did not sleep that night for joy. And before it was yet dawn he rose and swept and tidied up his little shop. He spread fresh sand upon the floor, and wreathed green boughs of fir along the rafters. on the spotless linen-covered table he placed a loaf of white bread, a jar of honey, and a pitcher of milk.

When all was in readiness, he took up his patient vigil at the window.

Presently he saw an old street-sweeper pass by, blowing upon his thin, gnarled hands to warm them. "Poor fellow, he must be half frozen," thought Martin. Opening the door he called out to him, "Come in my friend and warm yourself, and drink something hot." The man gratefully accepted the invitation.

An hour passed and Martin saw a young, miserably clothed woman carrying a baby. She paused wearily to rest in the shelter of his doorway. The heart of the old cobbler was touched. Quickly he flung open the door. "Come in and warm while you rest," he said to her. "you do not look well."

"I am going to the hospital. I hope they will take me in, and my baby boy." she explained. " My husband is at sea, and I am ill, without a sou.

"Poor child," cried Father Martin. "You must eat something while you are getting warm. No? Then let me give you a cup of milk or the little one. Ah! what a bright pretty fellow he is!...why, you have put no shoes on him?

"I have no shoes for him," sighed the mother.

"Then he shall have this lovely pair I finished yesterday."

And Father Martin took down from the shelf the soft little snow white shoes he had admired the evening before. He slipped them on the child's feet... they fit perfectly. And shortly, the poor, young mother went on her way, two sous in her hand and tearful with gratitude.

Father Martin resumed his post at the window. Hour after hour went by, and though many people shard the hospitality of the cobbler, the expected guest did not appear.

"It was only a dream," he sighed, with a heavy heart. "I did hope and believe, but He has not come." Suddenly, so it seemed to his weary eyes, the room was flooded with a strange light. And to the cobbler's astonished vision, there appeared before him , one by one, the poor street sweeper, the sick mother and her child, and all the people whom he had aided during the day. And each smiled and said, "Have you not seen me? Did I not sit at your table?" Then they vanished from his view.

At last, out of the silence, Father Martin heard the gentle voice repeating the old familiar words; "whosoever shall receive one such in my name, receiveth me... for I was hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in... verily I say unto you, in as much as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

1 comment:

Cleo said...

That's one of my favorite stories.