Good thing that shepherd boy is older than “two years old or younger.” Mary’s looking at him, like, yep, you’re also part of the Holy Family. Meanwhile, the donkey sees him peripherally, but is listening as to whether Mary is going to express any alarm. Goood guard-donkey!
Mary is looking at Jesus. The donkey has their back, listening though to whatever threat might be happening behind him. Goood guard-donkey!
Just arriving in Egypt after being exiled because of Herod’s violence in trying to murder little Jesus. Meanwhile, the donkey sees the sphinx peripherally, and is listening all around as to whether there are threats in the night. Goood guard-donkey!
Going into Jerusalem where the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Prince of the Most Profound Peace is headed to be betrayed, denied, abandoned, beaten, lied about, ripped to shreds and crucified. Notice that, in this case, the donkey is ever so placidly smiling. Goood guard-donkey! He’s been through much with the Holy Family. Jesus: “It is you who have stood by me in my trials.” Thus, G.K. Chesterton’s “The Donkey”:
When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.
With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.
The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.
Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.
We can all stand by Jesus in His trials. We can all be good guard donkeys. We can all be part of the Holy Family. We can all have our little guard donkey triumphs:
The important thing to remember in being a good guard donkey is that you are just an ass, but you carry Christ Jesus, as Saint Augustine said: “Asinus es, sed Christum portas.”