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Biblical Beasts: Fox

Thursday, July 21, 2011
My Grandfather grew up on a farm but spent the vast majority of his life living in Manchester. He had very definite views on foxes. Ideally they were to be shot. He regretted the difficulty in executing such a policy in a densely populated urban area. He had some sympathy with those who wanted to hunt foxes for sport. He had no time for anyone who thought of foxes as anything other than vermin.

My grandfather would, then, have approved of the words sung by the bride in the Song of Songs: 'Catch us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vineyard, for the vineyard is in blossom' (Song of Songs 2:15). In the Old Testament, a vineyard is often the symbol of Israel. The people of God are in bloom, the Bridegroom has come. The foxes, the thieves that vandalise this vineyard, must be cleared away so that the vineyard can bear much fruit. The foxes here represent our sins, all we do to resist the Word of God.

In Luke's gospel we again have the behaviour of the fox contrasted with the Kingdom of God. 'Foxes have holes ... but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head' (Luke 9:58). The vulnerable Christ walks in the light, and during his public ministry relies on his creatures for hospitality. The fox, in contrast, comes out to steal what is not his and then hides in the darkness of a hole. Jesus offered his life as a gift, and gave the human beings the great honour of giving him a gift. He accepted and allowed his creatures, those that loved him, to care for him. The fox receives no such gift and is reduced to raiding bin bags for food. Where Jesus built community by giving and receiving, the fox antisocially steals and damages. This is why my Granddad wanted to shoot them.

Nicholas Crowe OP


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