Did shepherds cause killing of innocents, Catholic novelist asks
Denver Catholic Register (www.archden.org)
Colorado author and publisher Richard Barry has done such a thing with his book, The Shepherds’ Prayer. The novel tells the story of the birth of Jesus and of the shepherds who witnessed the birth, then were sent to proclaim the news to the people.
“This story is what might have happened to the shepherds as a result of the slaughter of the innocents,” said Barry, a parishioner at St. Thomas More Church in Centennial, Colo. “After doing some research, I thought they might have been blamed for the massacre. That was extremely traumatic for the people.”
Barry said that it is human nature to assign blame and, following the massacre, the people would want to know who started this rumor about a messiah in the first place.
In the novel, a young man who was orphaned as a baby sets off to find out about his heritage. His only clue is a message on a blanket about a child who was born in a stable in Bethlehem. What does it have to do with him?
Barry says that this is a classical writing exercise: what if?
“I wanted to tell the story about what might have happened to these shepherds,” Barry said, “and what part they might have played in the ministry of Jesus.”
An early draft of the story was published a year ago. Barry distributed it to family and friends saying he was interested in their feedback. He said he was pleased at the positive response he received.
“It was though provoking,” he said. “People enjoyed reading the story from a different view. But I think it’s something we need; a fresh perspective to get people to think about it in a different way.”
Telling the story in a new way is only part of the reason Barry wrote the novel. For all the gifts and celebrating with family and friends, he wants to put the emphasis back where it belongs - on the birth of Jesus and how the Lord reinvigorates the lives of those who follow him.
“I want people to come away seeing the birth of Christ as they may never have before,” he said. “I want this to become as much a part of the season as Santa and other secular stories that have nothing to do with the birth of Christ.”
Copies of The Shepherds’ Prayer ($12.95) can be ordered online at www.shepherdsprayer.com. It is also available as an audio book ($12.95) narrated by John McDonough.
Barry knows that The Shepherds’ Prayer has the potential to become a Christmas classic because it’s one of those rare novels that the whole family can enjoy. As families decorate, bake and send out cards, he wants them to remember the humble people who first taught us what Christmas is really all about.- - -
This story was made available to Catholic Online by permission of the Denver Catholic Register (www.archden.org), official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver, Colo.