PETER DAY. Grandpa’s favourite Shepherd

This Christmas child won’t give you discounted goods … rather he’ll invite you to be humble, other-centred.

Grandpa, I’ve been thinking of late; the meaning of life: how do I know what is true?
Sure, I know right from wrong, but there’s something more, something deeper I wanna pursue.
I keep getting all these messages: Do this, do that; here’s what’ll satisfy.
But grandpa, I’m confused; to be honest, feel like I’m living a lie.

Ah, dear grandson, it’s a brave path you’re on; I’m proud; you’re starting to see;
It’s about time I told you about the Christmas child; the Good Shepherd from Galilee.
But before I tell you about him, what he did, and what he had to say;
You should be aware of some other shepherds, their false promises, and how they lead people astray.

There’s the Consumer Shepherd: it promises a lot: satisfaction, a better life;
Just think: ripped jeans with a label, a sexy car, and a multi-purpose knife!
Spend, spend, its Scriptures say; I’ll give you what you think you need;
I’ll fill those empty spaces, the dull ache, the hunger; mine’s a good feed.

There’s also the Celebrity Shepherd: what a beauty; follow it to fortune and fame.
It’ll ask you to sell your soul, but what a life: TV, an agent, and financial gain.
Youngsters, they flock; line-up for hours; anything to be the next big thing;
A parade of fragile fools conned by the promise of greatness – and lots of shiny bling.

Grandson, beware the Image Shepherd: trim, taut, terrific … Ah, the self-esteem;
Take-off eight kilos, get a tan, and go to places where only the right people are seen.Pretend to be someone you’re not, and make sure you look good as you do;
You’ll have heaps of friends, the latest gadgets, and your own plastic surgeon too.

What about the Role Model shepherd: usually dressed-up as a sportsman of note;
Loves to catch & kick a footy, drink a beer, and sure act the goat.
Up on a pedestal we place him: An autograph, please, we beseech.
A multi-million dollar pay packet, he’s only a youngster; wisdom well out of reach.

These are popular shepherds, mind you; no empty pews, churches filled to the brim;
Vibrant youth groups, healthy budgets, and catchy marketing to get you in.
And what preachers: a simple, catchy message: We’ll look after you;
Discounted goods, fame and fortune; we really care, it’s true.

Let me tell you, dear grandson, about that other Shepherd; the one born in a grubby manger;
The one who leads you down the road less traveled: the road of compassion, truth, and love of the stranger.
What a man, dear grandson; what a man this Christmas child proved to be;
Didn’t give a hoot about image, no pretending – God He was free.

He walked the earth; rolled in its mud, its blood, and its tears;
Visited places you shouldn’t be seen in and, in doing so, took away people’s fears.
He’s a bewdy, dear grandson; even dared to bring Good news to the poor.
Stood alongside battlers; had no time for zealots or bullies, that’s for sure.

This Christmas child won’t give you discounted goods, self-satisfaction, and entertainment all the way;
Rather, he’ll invite you to be humble, other-centred – and ensure the voiceless have their say.
Sure, sometimes, you might feel un-cool, irrelevant; even filled with doubt;
Hang-in there, dear grandson; I can assure, His way of love is really what it’s all about.

Peter Day is a Catholic Priest in Canberra.

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