“I am the one who never said anything false. The world considers me to be a peasant whose name seems contemptible. My words are counted as foolish and my house is considered a despicable shed. This peasant had a wife who wanted nothing other than what he wanted, who owned everything with him and had him as her master, obeying him in all things as her master. This peasant also had many sheep, and he hired a shepherd to watch over them for five gold coins and for the necessities of his bodily needs. Since this was a good shepherd, he used the gold to his benefit and the food for his sustenance. After some time had gone by, this shepherd moved and another shepherd came who was worse, who bought himself a wife with the gold and brought her his food, constantly taking his rest with her without caring about the sheep that were being lamentably scattered by cruel beasts.
When the peasant saw how his sheep were being scattered, he cried out saying: ‘My shepherd is unfaithful to me! My sheep are scattered by the most cruel beasts. Some of them are completely devoured by the beasts with body and fleece, while others are dead but their bodies left uneaten.’ Then the wife said to her husband the peasant: ‘My Lord, it is certain that we will not get back the bodies that are devoured, but the bodies who have remained unharmed, even though they are without life, should be brought home and made use of by us. For it would be unbearable for us if we lost everything.’ The husband answered her: ‘But what shall we do? Since the animals had venomous teeth, the flesh of the sheep has also become poisoned with deadly venom, the hide is ruined, and the wool is all tangled.’ The wife answered: ‘If everything is infected and ruined and everything taken from us, what shall we then live on?’
The husband answered her: ‘I see that there are sheep still alive in three places. Some are like the dead sheep and do not dare to breathe out of fear. Other sheep are lying deep in filth and cannot raise themselves up. Still others lie in hiding places and dare not come forth. Come therefore, my wife, and let us lift up the sheep that are trying to raise themselves up but cannot do so without help, and let us make use of them to our own benefit.’
Behold, I the Lord am this peasant, for men consider me to be a donkey raised in its stall according to its ways and habits. My name is the foundation of the Holy Church, but she is now considered to be contemptible, since the sacraments of the Church, namely baptism, confirmation, anointing, penance, and matrimony, are taken, as it were, with derision and given to others for the sake of greed. My words and deeds are considered and judged to be foolish and vain, for the words that I spoke in parables with my own mouth, have now been converted from a spiritual understanding to temporal entertainment. My house is looked on as contemptible, for the things of the earth are loved instead of the things of Heaven.
With this first shepherd I had, I symbolize my friends the priests, which I used to have in the Holy Church; for by a single word, I mean and signify many. I entrusted them with my sheep, that is, to consecrate my most venerable body and to rule and defend the souls of my chosen ones. I also gave them five good things more precious than all gold: First, an insight and understanding about all abstruse things so that they will be able to distinguish between good and evil, and between truth and falsehood. Second, I gave them understanding and wisdom in spiritual things; this has now been forgotten and human wisdom is loved instead. Third, I gave them chastity; fourth, temperance in all things and abstinence for the restraining and guidance of their body; fifth, steadfastness in good habits, words, and deeds.
After this first shepherd, that is, after these friends of mine, who used to be in my Church in days of old, other unrighteous shepherds came that bought a wife for themselves with the gold, that is, they took to themselves the body of a woman and intemperance instead of chastity and these five good things, and that is why my Spirit departed from them. For when they have a complete will to sin and to satisfy their wife, that is, to satisfy their lust, then my Spirit is absent from them, since they do not care about the perdition of the sheep so long as they can fulfill their evil lust. But the sheep that are completely devoured are those whose souls are in hell and whose bodies are buried in the grave awaiting the resurrection of the eternal damnation. The sheep whose flesh remains but whose spirit is taken away, are those who neither love me nor fear me nor feel any devotion or care toward me. My Spirit is far away from them, since their flesh is poisoned by the venomous teeth of the beasts, that is, their soul and their thoughts, which are symbolized by the sheep’s flesh and intestines, are in every way as disgusting to me and as repulsive to taste as is poisoned meat. From their hide, that is, from their body, has all goodness and charity dried out and it is unfit for any service in my kingdom and shall be delivered to the everlasting fire of hell after the judgment. Their wool, that is, their deeds, are so altogether useless that there is nothing in them that would make them worthy to receive my love and grace.
But what shall we do then, my wife, that is, good Christians, whom the wife symbolizes, what should we do? I see that sheep are alive in three places. Some of them look like the dead sheep and do not dare to breathe out of fear. These are the gentiles who would gladly have the right faith, if only they knew how, but who do not dare to breathe, that is, they do not dare to leave the faith that they have and take the right faith. The second sheep are those lying in hiding places who do not dare to come forth, and these are the Jews who live, so to speak, under a veil, and who would gladly come forth if they knew for certain that I was born. They namely hide themselves under a veil, since their hope for salvation is in the figures and signs that used to symbolize me in the Old Law but which in truth have been fulfilled in me, and because of this vain hope they are afraid to come forth to the right faith. The third sheep that lie in the filth are Christians in the state of mortal sin. They would gladly raise themselves up because of their fear of the torment, but they cannot due to their heavy sins and because they have no divine love. Therefore, my wife, that is, good Christians, help me! For just as a wife and a man should be one flesh and one limb, so the Christian is my limb and I am his, since I am in him and he is in me.
Therefore, o wife of mine, that is, good Christians, run with me to the sheep that still have a breath of life and let us lift them up and refresh them! Have compassion on me, for I bought them at a very high price! Let us lift them up, you with me and me with you, you at the back and I at the head! I gladly carry them with my hands. Once I carried them all on my back when it was all lacerated and fastened to the cross. O my friends, I love these sheep so dearly that, if it were possible for me to suffer such a death for each sheep as I once suffered on the cross for all of them, I would rather redeem them than want to lose them. That is why I cry out to my friends with all my heart that they should not spare goods or work for my sake; for if I was not spared from reproaching and insulting words while I was in the world, they should not spare themselves in speaking the truth about me. I was not ashamed to suffer a contemptible death for their sake, but stood there naked, just as I was born, before the eyes of my enemies. I was struck in the teeth with their fists. I was dragged by the hair with their fingers and scourged by their scourges. I was fastened to the cross with their tools, and I hung on the cross between thieves and robbers. Therefore, my friends, do not spare yourself in working for me since I endured such things out of love for you. Work manfully and bring help to all my sheep in distress.
I swear by my Manhood, which is in the Father as the Father is in me, and by my Divinity, which is in my Spirit as the Spirit is in the Divinity and the same Spirit is in me and I in him, and these are one God in three persons, that I shall run out to meet those halfway who work in carrying my sheep with me and help them, and I shall give them the most precious reward, namely, myself unto their everlasting joy.”
The words of the Son to the bride about the three kinds of Christians that are symbolized by the Jews living in Egypt, and about how the things which have been revealed to the bride should be transmitted, published and preached to ignorant persons by the friends of God.