Category Archives: parables of Jesus

Stuff gets in the way

Readings
Colossians 3.1–11
Luke 12.13–21

 

The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat hanging in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes; the money which you put into the bank belongs to the poor. You do wrong to everyone you could help but fail to help. — Basil of Caesarea (c.330–c.379), ‘On Greed’, a sermon on the Parable of the Rich Fool

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Luke’s Gospel emphasises in several places that riches can get in the way of being a disciple of Jesus. Today, Luke illustrates this with a parable of a rich man, a farmer.

A good farmer, a successful farmer. A farmer whose barns couldn’t hold everything he had grown—so he decided that he needed to build bigger barns. 

What other option was there? 

There was no other option in the limited world that this farmer lived in. It’s a good exercise to look at how many time the words ‘I’ and ‘my’ appear in the parable:

There was once a rich man who had land which bore good crops. He began to think to himself, ‘I don’t have a place to keep all my crops. What can I do? This is what I will do,’ he told himself; ‘I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, where I will store the grain and all my other goods. Then I will say to myself, Lucky man! You have all the good things you need for many years. Take life easy, eat, drink, and enjoy yourself!’

Who figures in this man’s life? No one but him. There’s no one else. He only thinks of himself, and he even talks only to himself! 

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Hidden in plain sight ( Year A, 30 July 2017)

Reading
Matthew 13.31–33, 44–52

For Jesus, God’s realm is not some esoteric kingdom in the sweet by and by, but as close as the next mustard bush or loaf of bread.
Feasting on the Word, Year A, Vol.3.

Truly, you are a God who hides himself,
O God of Israel, the Saviour. (Isaiah 45.15)
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In the Gospel According to Matthew, Jesus begins his ministry with these words:

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.

The kingdom of heaven—what Mark and Luke call the kingdom of God—has come near.

What is the kingdom of God? Well, it’s something Jesus tells stories about.

We can tell that this kingdom is near because when Jesus tells stories about it, he tells stories about things that are near at hand. Jesus’ ‘Parables of the Kingdom’ are stories about farmers and seeds and merchants finding pearls and women baking bread.

But these stories have a bit of a twist. The twist is there because while the kingdom of God really is nearby, it is also hidden. You can see it—hidden in plain sight—if you know how to look. If you can repent and look with new eyes. The parables of Jesus call us to engage with them, to rethink, to redirect our heart.

In today’s terms, we could tell a parable something like this:

The kingdom of God is like an old woman in a coffee shop who pays for the strangers at the next table, and slips out before they realise it.

Or,

The kingdom of God is like a pregnant woman getting on a full bus, whereupon a gay man gives up his seat for her.

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