For the next several Sundays we will hear parables in St. Matthew's gospel. The parables, powerful stories with a single disconcerting and challenging point, were Jesus' favorite way of teach and, according to many scholars, reveal the religious experience of Jesus, his insight into the Father in heaven. Parables demand thought and are often hard to understand. Both this Sunday and next Sunday, in the two parables of the sower (which may be different versions of the same parable) are part of a tradition of parables of reassurance, of encouragement, of confidence. They are paralleled by another tradition of parables of warning, of challenge, of urgency. The trouble with parables is that they are disturbing, baffling, puzzling. To try to explain a parable is to deprive it of its fire and fury, of its power and intensity. Even the earliest Christians, however, tried to tame the parables of Jesus. Thus the allegorical (a meaning attached to each event instead of a single powerful and disturbing meaning) interpretation of the stories this week and next week is something that Jesus, good story teller that he was, would have never attempted. Rather in an early stage of the Christian tradition this explanation was added to Jesus' original story. The allegory is not "wrong" but it does deprive the story today of its most powerful meaning: the word of God, God's people, God's church, God's invitation to each of us can overcome any obstacle. That is, when one thinks about it, a very disturbing notion because it demands total faith in God's word and Her eventual triumph.
Fr. Greeley's Last Book:
Once upon a time a couple of years ago an investment broker had a splendid idea - that the internet would in a few years be a huge success. He decided he would advise his clients to invest in AOL.Com, Amazon.com, and Yahoo.com.
His clients laughed at him. What's the internet, some of them said; What's e-mail, others said; Yahoo, you gotta be kiding, still others said, is that a sesame street character; Amazon is a river, isn't it? You're outta you're mind. No one listened to him. He was a weird little guy anyway, always thinking he was one step ahead of the trends. World wide web, gimme a break.
The man's boss wasn't happy with him and told him to go back to recommending computer stocks which would go up indefinitely, like Compaq. The man did what he was told and his clients stopped complaining to his boss. Just the same he invested every cent he and his wife had in internet stocks. Were his boss and clients angry at him? He never found out.
He sold those stocks at their highest value and is now retired and living in Pago Pago.
8 The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to
anger and abounding in steadfast love.
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