Sunday March 3, 2019
Then His disciples asked Him what this parable meant. He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the realm 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
Such an intriguing comment made by Christ to His disciples, almost counter-intuitive, somehow out of character for Christ. Like that mysterious instruction not to cast your pearls before swine, this passage is remarkable in its stridency. And so over and over … the Lord and I have talked over this passage. Is this the statement of a principle, Lord; or is it a bit of practical advice.
Some people feel the need to codify all teaching, make it law, make it a clearly stated rule. Personally and professionally, I think taught now in terms of laws and rules, but rather in terms of principles and commands quite often the form of teaching stories. Stories have such a deeper depth-of-field than does a maxim or a declarative statement. Within the teaching story there is a dimension of the human story, a dimension that communicates more than can be included in a rule. Truth told within a story is an invitation into a greater mystery, a mystery that keeps revealing. Christ’s teaching stories are not like Aesop’s fables where at the end is pasted the meaning of the story. No, in Christ’s teachings the meaning lives within the story itself. And in the retelling of a parable and in the hearing once again a parable, the meaning within becomes all the more. That is … if you do not snatch the story from Christ’s voice and turn it into mere, cold law encased forever in a former interpretation.
If I could for a moment dare to put words in Christ’s mount … it is as if Christ were counseling His disciples … “teach them the stories lest they too quickly make final conclusions.”
I am always stunned by people who claim that Christ set them free from the shackles of the Old Testament Law and its questionable corollaries … and turn right around and make New Testament Law out of attempts to bring the spirit of Christ to the cultures of this world. We were not called to legislate more entangling, controlling, enslaving Law … but rather to bring to life the stories that Christ did give us. We are called to fulfill but two commandment … Love God with everything within you … and … Love others as you would love your own self. Upon these Laws all else is but the story of Christ living on.
Always in Christ’s Service,
Fr. Charitas de la Cruz