The Importance of Parables
A few years ago, a good friend of mine was completing his doctrinal dissertation in physics. His dissertation oddly enough was entitled, Phonon on a Stepped Surface. Now, I don’t know about you, but I had no idea what a “phonon” is, or for that matter, “a stepped surface.” When I asked about the subject of his study and he explained to me in simple terms, in an understandable way. He said simply that it has to do with the motion of atoms on the surface of a crystal. Although there are many complex mathematical equations in his work, it nevertheless boils down to the many motions of atoms on a solid surface. Here is a clear example of something very complicated brought to a level of understanding in which most people, like myself, could comprehend, at least nominally.
Jesus used this method often, he used it to teach his disciples. A band of fisherman and tax collectors who were not Rabbis or teachers in the synagogue, but ordinary every day men. When our Lord began to teach them about the reign of God in parables, the radical new message wasn’t so radical after all.
The only possible way in which these men could begin to share in this new covenant was by a steady, and slow process of discovery through the patience of Jesus’ teaching on matters that were recognizable to them.
Familiar stories like the smallest of seeds that are transformed into one of the biggest bushes, where birds of the air build their nests.
The mustard seed being the smallest of seeds can be easily seen as the apostles, who, when they first met the Lord were nothing but small seeds themselves.
Their understanding and knowledge of Jesus and his mission was so limited, so ineffectual that just like a seed that is not planted in fertile soil, will remain just a seed. But these apostles, these little seeds grew to the stature of mighty bushes where the people of God sought refuge from their toil, anxieties and hardships of life.
WE ARE ARE CALLED to start out tiny and become big evangelizers of the gospel
But what about us? Are we tender shoots planted producing much fruit, or seeds that will grow into bushes? Too often, one of our first replies to someone who questions our faith is to retreat, not because of fear or embarrassment, but because of a sense of not feeling totally competent about talking about God and His Kingdom.
If we believe that we are the disciples of the Lord, then we believe that in an analogous way we are like his first apostles. Men and women, boys and girls who are but seeds, seeds destined to grow to be mighty bushes. And the prerequisite of this growth is not degrees in theology, but rather, a faith and a conviction to the follow the Truth. Inherent in every person who is sincere in following that call of Truth, resides the knowledge about the Kingdom of God.
We come to know instinctively right from wrong, good from bad, love from hate. To excuse ourselves from this task of proclaiming this knowledge to the world is tantamount to denying our faith. We have been called to proclaim the Good News to those who search for it. We have been called to mighty bushes where the hobbled, tired, downtrodden can rest and find shelter.