“On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me four calling birds…”
Symbolism: The four calling birds stand for the Four Gospels and the Four Evangelists. As anyone who’s heard all the chatter about the Gnostic Gospels knows, there are more than four “gospels”. In reality, a “gospel” is just an ancient form of biography; you can have a “gospel” of Julius Caesar or a “gospel” of Simeon the Plumber of Jerusalem. What makes our four gospels unique is that the early Church decided, through time, prayer and consensus, that these four were divinely inspired (meaning that their authors wrote at the prompting of God) and therefore presented the truest portrayals of Christ. For so long–and even today–people have been unable to read these holy words either because of oppression or lack of education, and so we should give thanks for the easy access that we have to our holy Scriptures!
Your Mission: Become an armchair Biblical scholar by reading this article on the four symbolic animals of each Gospel. It’s fascinating stuff!
Bonus Points: If you’re looking for an easy and fascinating read for your Winter Break, pick up Richard Burridge’s “Four Gospels, One Jesus?” It’s my all-time favorite book on Biblical scholarship and completely opened my eyes to the richness that the gospels offer. Four different accounts of the same guy can be really confusing, but this book describes why there are four gospels, why they are different, why they should be different…basically, everything you need to know. And it’s an easy read!