Parables: final thoughts

parable_SowerThis coming Sunday’s gospel ends: With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private. (Mark 4:32-34) Mark concludes this collection of parables with a summary indicating  that he has selected illustrations of Jesus’ teaching from a much larger cycle of tradition. It was Jesus’ method to teach the people through parables such as the one which Mark has presented. Through these parables Jesus is proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom; in other words, He was proclaiming “the word.” The term is an echo of the explanation given to the parable of the sower, where it occurs eight times. It is appropriate to the vocabulary of revelation and means clearly “the word of God,” or more concretely “the word of the Kingdom.”

Continue reading

A Sunday of parables

parable_SowerThis coming Sunday the Church returns to “Ordinary Time” – not ordinary as regular and everyday, but from the Latin meaning to count. We celebrate the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The readings, especially the first reading from the Prophet Ezekiel and the Gospel from Mark, each make use of parables. The New Testament scholar, Charles H. Dodd (d. 1973) gave the Church its most classic and enduring definition of a parable: “a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought.”

Continue reading

Whole-hearted response

Next Sunday is the celebration of the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time. You can read a complete commentary on the Gospel here.

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. 46 When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. 47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. 48 When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. 49 Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. 51 “Do you understand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” 52 And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” (Matthew 13:44-52) Continue reading

What was lost

This morning’s gospel is the parable of “The Prodigal Son” (Luke 15:11-32)

Luke 15 is one of the great chapters of Scripture for parables, bound together by the theme of joy over the recovery of what was lost. All three parables of Luke 15 (the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Prodigal Son) point to the idea of the return of one that was lost.  To the simple structure of lost/found/joy, in the Prodigal Son parable, there is further development of the theme of God’s love and the contrast of the older brother’s hostility. Luke uses this motif to teach a newer, more full meaning of repentance. Continue reading

Talents: sharing joy

Talents4A Curious Start. 14 “It will be as when a man who was going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. 15 To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability. Then he went away.” If Matthew had used a copy editor, I am sure they would be discussing the use of “it.” What will be as…? Curiously, most Matthean parables are explicit when it comes to the kingdom of heaven. The previous parable (Wise and Foolish Maidens) begins, “the kingdom of heaven will be like.” (25:1). Here Matthew begins hōsper gar, literally “for just as”, indicates that the same subject is under discussion. Continue reading

What is a Parable?

In the weeks to come we will hear a number of parables as part of the Gospel. So, what is a “Parable”? Definition: “At its simplest a parable is a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought.” (C. H. Dodd, The Parables of the Kingdom, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1961, p. 5) Less accurate, but perhaps more to the point – when heard, a parable should give you pause and turn your world upside down. Continue reading

Come, share your master’s joy

Talents4A Curious Start. 14 “It will be as when a man who was going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. 15 To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability. Then he went away.” If Matthew had used a copy editor, I am sure they would be discussing the use of “it.” What will be as…? Curiously, most Matthean parables are explicit when it comes to the kingdom of heaven. The previous parable (Wise and Foolish Maidens) begins, “the kingdom of heaven will be like.” (25:1). Here Matthew begins hōsper gar, literally “for just as”, indicates that the same subject is under discussion. Continue reading

Parables

parable_SowerWhat is a “Parable”? Definition: “At its simplest a parable is a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought.” (C. H. Dodd, The Parables of the Kingdom, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1961, p. 5) Less accurate, but perhaps more to the point – when heard, a parable should give you pause and turn your world upside down. Continue reading