Wednesday, November 4, 2015

We want answers, Jesus tells stories

Reminds me of the time...

A disciple once complained, "You tell us stories, but you never reveal their meaning to us." Said the master, "How would you like it if someone offered you fruit and masticated it before giving it to you.  Anthony De Mello,

Who has not found
the Heaven below
Will fail of it above.
God's residence is next to mine,
His furniture is love.
Emily Dickinson

The disciples came up and asked, “Why do you tell stories?”  Matthew 13: 10 The Message

In the insightful movie Lincoln, the President's frequent break amidst an anxious deliberation- to tell a story- becomes a source of irritation for some of his cabinet insiders, especially those who want clarity instead of a story.

As a master teacher knows the students best of all, you have to wonder if Jesus was sugar lacing the bitter pill of the disciples' own lack of understanding. It's not the crowds, lacking in seeing, hearing, and understanding, who need the rather simple metaphors of the parables explained. The disciples are the ones who have trouble with understanding, and ask for a commentary on the parable. (Matthew 13:36)

Read it: faithful disciples are not the ones who understand and get it right. Instead, faithful disciples are the ones who ask for help in understanding- the very beginning of wisdom and insight.

It is about growing in love, enacting what the Messiah taught, not insider knowledge. Christian rallies of all kinds may reinforce the flimsy notion that showing up once in a while means something.

But being in church every so often doesn't make a Christian any more than having been in a barn makes one a diary cow. This notwithstanding that the prophet Amos actually compared some of his hearers to cows, but not in a good way. (Amos 4:1 ff.) But Jesus (Matthew 23:23-28), like Amos (Amos 5:21-24), sharply criticizes the substitution of love and justice with a dazzling sound and light show. Jesus taught his disciples to interrupt worship sacrifices in order to be reconciled to those with whom we live and work.

Matthew implies that if the crowds really did understand, they would be following Jesus. Their dullness (the Message suggests un-readiness) is one reason why the crowds don't recognize Jesus as the Messiah. But since Matthew's and Jesus' words are for believers (supposedly the enlightened ones),  they are especially for those of us who cannot admit our lack of understanding, and our need to surrender to the One who resides next to us, whose "furniture is love."



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