Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Parables from the Great Parabler, by Christine Hides

Then his disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but to others I speak in parables, so that ‘looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.” Luke 8: 9–10

Reflection: That’s Jesus for you, evading a direct question with an answer meant to provoke wondering. A parable might be thought of as “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.” [1]

Jesus the Great Parabler uses the ordinary (seeds, soil, bread, trees…)  in ways that interrupt our normal thought patterns. The twists and turns in these shortest of stories loosen our grip on what we think we know, coaxing us to imagine an ineffable, divine kingdom. This is why the children I work with love “walking around” in the parables, wandering (and wondering) in the open-endedness, fearlessly playing with words to describe what God’s realm is like.

Making meaning from metaphor often leads to surprising results: our lives upended like the merchant searching for the great pearl, or our hearts broken open like the tiniest of seeds grown into a sheltering tree, and our souls forever transformed like a leavened loaf. Perhaps Jesus might invite us into this Lenten exploration of the parables saying, “I use parables to explain the unexplainable and so you may not understand at first. But walk around in the stories with me and discover something extraordinary.”

Prayer: 
O Great Parabler,
Embodiment of the Intangible Realm,
Walk around with us in prayer and parable,
That we might find meaning
in your multi-faceted metaphors.
Show us the way this Lenten season.
Amen.


[1]Dodd, C.H. quoted in Feasting on the Gospels, Luke 1–8, edited by Cynthia Jarvis and Elizabeth Johnson

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