The story of Balaam and Balak in the book of Numbers is actually quite funny. That is, the idea for a talking donkey came long before the popular movie “Shrek.” Read it to your kids, I bet they will love it just as much as I do.
But the story gets better. Balak, one of the rulers whose territory is threatened by the wandering Israelites wants Balaam to curse this holy multitude. Yet in a dream Balaam understands that the Lord does not want him to curse these people as they are under his special protection and guidance. Although Balak’s wrath is kindled, Balaam can only do what the Lord commands.
This story must be distant, odd, funny, and irrelevant. But it manifested itself in my life today. Just two weeks ago I gave my solemn vow to “serve all people, particularly the poor, the weak, the sick, and the lonely.” Today, I went and visited a parishioner in the hospital. Wracked by pain and the loneliness of the hospital, she was one of “the least of these.” I am not trying to puff up my own pride, but in visiting her I fulfilled my vow; I did only what the Lord had commanded me to do.
So the talking donkey isn’t so far gone. Just about any old ass might be the Lord’s messenger.