The Milk of God and the Jugglar of Mary

These are two great legends from Judaism and Christianity, both of which share the same message. The first is an exact replication of the story, taken off a blog, and the second is my memorization of the story, which I read in a devotional book. Enjoy!

In the life of Moses, in Hebrew folklore, there is a remarkable passage. Moses finds a shepherd in the desert. He spends the day with the shepherd and helps him to milk his ewes, and at the end of the day he sees that the shepherd puts the best milk he has into a bowl, which he places on a flat stone some distance away. So Moses asks him what it is for and the shepherd replies, “This is God’s milk.” Moses is puzzled and asks him what he means. The shepherd says, “I always take the best milk I posess, and I bring it as an offering to God.”

Moses, who is far more sophisticated than the shepherd with his naive faith, asks, “And does God drink it?”

“Yes,” replies the shepherd, “He does.”

Then Moses feels compelled to enlighten the poor shepherd and he explains that God, being pure spirit, does not drink milk. Yet the shepherd is sure that He does, and so they have a short argument, which ends with Moses telling the shepherd to hide behind the bushes to find out whether in fact God does come to drink the milk.

Moses then goes out to pray in the desert. The shepherd hides, the night comes, and in the moonlight the shepherd sees a little fox that comes trotting from the desert, looks right, looks left and heads straight towards the milk, which he laps up, and disappears into the desert again.

The next morning Moses finds the shepherd quite depressed and downcast. “What’s the matter?” he asks.

The shepherd says “You were right, God is pure spirit and He doesn’t want my milk.” Moses is surprised. He says “you should be happy. You know more about God than you did before.”

“Yes, I do,” says the shepherd, “but the only thing I could do to express my love for Him has been taken away from me.”

Moses sees the point. He retires into the desert and prays hard. In the night, in a vision, God speaks to him and says “Moses, you were wrong. It is true that I am pure spirit. Nevertheless, I always accepted with gratitude the milk which the shepherd offered me as the expression of his love, but since, being pure spirit, I do not need the milk, I shared it with this little fox, who is very fond of milk.”

There once lived a jugglar who would perform tricks for Our Lady of the Rosary at a certain shrine. Every day he would go before the statue and juggle his balls, than at the end of the day go home and rest. He was the only one who ever visited Our Lady, but the priest who took care of the shrine became worried about this man, thinking he was causing trouble in the shrine. So he waited for the jugglar to come, and as soon as he did, he chased the man out before he could even do one act. As he ran, the jugglar had dropped his balls, which the priest immediately scooped up and hid in his bedroom.

That night, the priest had a dream. In it, Our Lady approached him, saying “Why did you chase out the man who juggled for me? I enjoyed his work very much, and as there was no one else to come see me, I was happy to be with him.” The priest replied, “O Lady, I thought he was only there to mock you!” Our Lady answered, “He wished to honor me, and knew no other way to. You have taken away his only means of honoring me.” The priest was saddened and begged Our Lady to help him teach the jugglar how to properly honor her. She said, “I want you to teach him the rosary.” “And how will I know,” asked the priest, “That this is what God wants?” “I will leave you a sign,” Our Lady answered, and the dream ended.

The priest awoke. He was suddenly filled with the urge to go to the cupboard where he had hid the balls. But when he opened the cupboard, he found it empty. He immediately ran to the jugglar’s house, and he found that the balls had been returned to him. And he taught the man how to pray the rosary.

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