Chicken Licken

Mk. 13:14-23

Standing in the midst of the real world, Jesus both challenges us and reassures us. These are His words: “But be alert; I have already told you everything.” (Mk 13:23)

When I was a small boy, Mrs. Haskell would take care of me. She was wonderful, for she always brought books of children’s folk tales and myths. One of her stories was the story of Chicken Licken.

“One day when Chicken Licken was scratching among the leaves, an acorn fell out of a tree and stuck her on the tail.

“Oh,” said Chicken Licken, “the sky is falling! I am going to tell the King.” So she went along and went along until she met Henny Penny.

“Oh, Henny Penny, the sky is falling and I am going to tell the King!” Cocky Locky joined Henny Penny and Chicken Licken, as did Ducky Daddles, Goosey Loosey, and Turkey Lurkey.

“So they went along and went along until they met Foxy Woxy.”

He was told of the sky falling. “How do you know the sky is falling?” asked Foxy Woxy. “Goosey Loosey told me,” said Turkey Lurkey. “Ducky Daddles told me,” said Goosey Loosey, etc. “Chicken Licken told me,” said Henny Penny. “I saw it with my own eyes, I heard it with my own ears, and a piece of it fell on my tail,” said Chicken Licken.

“Then we will run, and we will run to my den,” said Foxy Woxy, “and I will tell the King.”

“So they all ran to Foxy Woxy’s den, but the foolish birds never came out again, and the King was never told that the sky was falling.” (Anonymous)

Folk tales touch upon religious instincts and truths. They open up the human experience. Stories such as Chicken Licken amuse us and catch our imagination. Part of the attraction of these old tales lies in their sharp edge of reality. Children intuitively sense that there is a hardness to life. Stories such as Chicken Licken challenge children to be careful who they follow and to check things out for themselves. They are cautioned that things can go wrong, and that sometimes the sky really does in a sense fall on the unwary.

You and I are also challenged to look beyond our folk stories and myths. We are called to look with Christian realism upon the real world of harsh realities and eternal truths. When we realize that Christ has told us everything, we are ready to hear the message of Advent and to receive the gift of God’s incarnate love. Amen