(In the story “Boaz’ Field,” the first shepherd has just said that some Israelites consider themselves more pure than other Israelites. The second shepherd responds to that statement.)
‟Yes,” said the second shepherd, ‟and the purists place shepherds among the impure. Now there are some among us who deserve that label. We know who they are; the ones who allow their sheep to graze in a field belonging to someone else. That’s thievery; stealing; a violation of God’s teaching. Shepherds like that give all of us a bad name. But only a handful of us are like that. Even so, the purists aren’t very happy with us. By their standards, we’re not in the synagogue enough; not in the temple enough; and not strict enough in ritual. They say that shepherds are at best on the margin, if not outside, the righteousness of God. And so we’re considered not much better than foreigners like Ruth.”
‟Well, “said the third shepherd, ‟I guess whether we’re morally clean is a matter of opinion. But hey, this much is true: We are a filthy bunch. I mean, look at us! We work up buckets of sweat every day; we walk among sheep dung; and we lie down in the mud to sleep. There’s an old saying, ‘Cleanliness is next to godliness.’ In that case, we aren’t too godly! I could hardly blame God for not wanting to be with us!”
The two others laughed, when suddenly—
(The story “Boaz’ Field” continues tomorrow.)
Lord, protect us from the sin of thinking others are less pure than we are. Amen.