One moonlit night a Fox was prowling about a farmer’s chicken coop, and saw a Hen roosting high up beyond his reach. “Good news, good news!” he cried.
“Why, what is that?” said the Hen.
“King Lion has declared a universal truce. No beast may hurt a bird henceforth, but all shall dwell together in brotherly friendship.”
“Why, that is good news,” said the Hen; “and there I see someone coming, with whom we can share the good tidings.” And so saying she craned her neck forward and looked far off.
“What is it you see?” said the Fox.
“It is only my master’s Dog that is coming towards us. What, going so soon?” she continued, as the Fox began to turn away. “Will you not stop and congratulate the Dog on the reign of universal peace?”
“I would gladly do so,” said the Fox, “but I fear he may not have heard of King Lion’s decree.”
What do you think is the moral of Aesop’s fable? The answer: Cunning often outwits itself.
There are parallels between this fable and Sunday’s Gospel story. Herod is the Fox, Jesus is the Hen, perhaps John the Baptist is the Dog, and King Lion is God. Although the Fox lied to the Hen about King Lion’s decree of universal peace, we know a different story from God. The truth is that the kingdom of God is at hand and it is present in deep and surprising ways.