Wednesday, March 16, 2022

The Kingdom Divided Against Itself, by Katie Snipes Lancaster

Because Jesus knew what they were thinking, he said to them, “Every kingdom involved in civil war becomes a wasteland…” Luke 11:17a

Reflection: Jesus speaks in stories. Even this tiny story is vivid: when you fight against yourself, you fashion your own demise.

Insofar as this parable is set within the context of the Gospel of Luke, you can hear Jesus using it to refute his critics and counter the charges against him. One of the reasons everyone wanted to draw near to Jesus is because he was a healer. One day when Jesus heals a man who had been mute, drawing out whatever malady lived within the man’s body, Jesus’ detractors suggest he must be working on behalf of diabolos.

Maybe this parable is Jesus rolling his eyes and telling his critics in no uncertain terms that they are morons (if Jesus lived in the twenty-first century, he may have just sent them the clip of Hermione Granger meme saying, “What an idiot”). The logic is this: if Jesus was working for Beelzeul, a satan-like opponent of God, then exorcizing evil would equate to spiritual civil war.

Because parables are by nature, expansive and multivalent, this short aphorism or pearl of wisdom does not need to be confined to this one way of seeing it. Amy Jill Levine says, “parables challenge us to look into the hidden aspects of our own values, our own lives.” Where are we a kingdom-divided? What wastelands can be prevented if only we open our eyes? Answering these questions may not be easy, but Levine says that we will welcome the presence of the divine when we are concerned “less about what the parables mean, and more about what they can do: remind, provoke, refine, confront, and disturb.”

Prayer: 
O Great Parabler,
Remind us
Provoke us
Refine us
Confront us
Disturb us
with your stories.
Amen.

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