When He was just a boy…

I was thinking about Jesus this morning and wondering if he had a dog when he was just a boy; and then the thought came to me, Well, of course, Jesus had a dog! Why wouldn’t he?

I could imagine him lovingly petting the stray dog, asking his parents if he could keep him, and then welcoming the brown dog with a perfect white circle on his back into their home. I could see Jesus summoning him to curl up at his feet at night, feeding him crumbs from his mother’s table, and calling, “C’mon, Moon,” as he left the house to seek out his friends to roam the hills in search of boy adventures.

And in my mind’s eye, I saw Jesus walking the dusty streets on his way back home for supper, a scraggly bunch of dogs following at his heels, and his smiling mother standing there at the door watching the usual homeward parade of boy and beasts.

“Jesus, Jesus, what am I to do with you,” she says, shaking her head, a knowing smile on her face as Jesus runs into her arms to be swung in a circle.

“Only Moon,” she gestures, and the well-loved dog enters with his young master and curls up in the corner while Jesus runs to wash his hands in the basin.

The room is filled with the pleasant aroma of lamb roasting and the table is beautifully set with candles, wildflowers, wine and the two challah loaves to announce the arrival of the long-awaited guest–Shabbat itself.

Sitting on his cot in the corner, Jesus watches as his mother puts the food on the table and places the headscarf beside her plate. Right before sundown she will light and bless the candles and the loaves, and the best day of the week will begin.

The boy wonders aloud where his dad is. “He’ll be here soon, Jesus,” Mary tells him, “He just had to take the bench he repaired back to Martha.”

And just then, Joseph with a wide smile on his face opens the door. “Well, I don’t have to ask if Jesus is home,” he says with a chuckle. “All the dogs I had to step over to get to the door were proof enough for me!” Jesus laughs and runs to embrace his dad, grabbing his hands, roughened by the wood he shapes into tables and benches, carts and boxes.

“Quickly now,” Mary says, as she covers her head with the scarf that has been passed down in her family many times over just for Shabbat. With Joseph on one side of her and Jesus on the other, she lights the candles. Father and son smile across the table at each other as they hear Moon situate himself beside the feet of Jesus.

In the flickering candlelight, the Light of the world watches as his mother shades her eyes and waves her hands over the candles, reciting the familiar blessing, Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who sanctified us with His commandments.

Joseph lifts his voice to sing over Mary the Eshet Chail, Hebrew for Woman of Valor, followed by the spoken blessing over Jesus. And after the blessing of the wine and bread and the Shabbat readings, Joseph recites the Priestly Blessing from Numbers 6:24-26–a blessing that one day more than two thousand years in the future will be sung around the world to comfort Jews and Gentiles alike in the midst of a world-wide pandemic.

The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Shabbat Shalom

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