Thursday, February 6, 2014

Returning to "Our First Intentions"

Parables have always been used as a means of instruction, and our Lord was a master in their use. The problems of society give rise to many of the parables still being told today. Jealousy and greed, for instance, two of the capital sins, though motivational forces for moving our economy and fostering progress, also are a cause of much evil in the world. The Taegu Catholic Bulletin recounts a parable that addresses these problems. 

One day a king traveling through his kingdom stayed overnight in the home of a shepherd. Seeing the behavior of the shepherd he was moved by his simplicity, honesty and overall demeanor, which he didn't find among his retainers.  Since the king valued the attributes of the spirit more than professional skills, he decided to make the shepherd prime minister of his kingdom. 

As prime minister he was  honest and faithful in his duties, but the other retainers, knowing he was only a simple shepherd, began to envy his way of doing every task impartially and dutifully; it made their work more difficult, and so they conspired to find ways to get rid of him

Noticing that he would go to his country home once a month, they decided to secretly follow him. The shepherd went to a hollow in the ground and, lifting a large jar from the hole and removing the cover, stared into the jar for some time. The retainers reported this to the king; it appeared, they said, that the prime minister had a pure heart, but that he was not the poor simple shepherd he claimed to be, for in his home, they told the king, he had a jar with all kinds of gold and precious stones. 

The angry king demanded that the prime minister take him to see what was in the jar he kept hidden in the ground. Along with the retainers, the king watched as the prime minister took off the cover to the jar; inside, they could see only old clothes and a shepherd's staff.  "I was a shepherd," the prime minister said, "but because of the kindness of the king I was made the prime minister. I come to look at the clothes and staff in order not to forget who I was, and still am at heart, a simple shepherd." 

From that time on, no one found fault with the prime minister. The prime minster's efforts to remember who he was helped him to keep the disposition that he had as a shepherd.

"First Intention" was the headline of the Taegu Bulletin article that recounted the parable. As a child there are some basic aspirations and intentions that we entertained. "Returning to the First Intentions" is the Korean expression to describe these first dreams and intentions we had as children, before being buffeted by the reality of life, changing our aspirations to adapt to what we came to know as the reality of the world. This we need to do, according to the article, but despite it all we should have our own 'jar' that we can return to and peer into for the dreams that should not completely  disappear from our lives.            

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