28th February

Brigid And The Fox

My servant will set free those who sit in dark prisons. Isaiah 42: 7.

A local Irish king loved to show off a tame fox whenever he had a special occasion. It was a favourite court mascot which had learned all sorts of tricks.

One day a simple, uneducated man who knew nothing of this, saw the fox and killed it. He neither realised whose was the fox, nor why such a large crowd gathered round to watch him kill it.

Some of the crowd, of course, immediately reported him to the king, who was furious beyond measure. The king ordered the man’s wife and children to be sold as slaves, their home to be taken, and the man to be executed – unless the king received a replacement fox just as skilled – which seemed an impossible condition.

When Brigid heard of this her heart bled for the man and his family. She took her carriage and did a “prayer ride” along the road to the king’s court, pouring forth prayers for the poor family and for God to turn the situation round. As she was praying, a fox appeared, and, what is so extra-ordinary, jumped on to her carriage, and sat quietly beside Brigid under her cloak.

Brigid arrived at the king’s castle, and implored him unceasingly to revoke his sentence and release the whole family. The king was adamant that he would only release them if he got a fox that was as clever and tame as the one he had lost. That was Brigid’s cue; to the amazement of everyone she brought her fox to the centre of the court. The fox entertained everyone with just the same sort of tricks as had the other fox. The king was so pleased with the reaction of the large audience that had gathered that he ordered the man and his family to be released.

But who had the last word? It is reported that once the object of Brigid’s prayers had been achieved, the wily fox slunk away, never to be seen again!

Father, so many people walk through life with their feet in fetters
clobbered with unjust burdens
captives in prisons of body or spirit.
Pour out your compassion through us
that we may be instruments to set others free.