Prophets and Parables
By Fr. Tom Zelinski, OFM Cap.
During these weeks at Mass we have been reading scriptures which express different ways in which God wants to communicate with the people. We have words of prophecy and words of parables. As Jesus says in several places in the Gospel, if we have ears to hear, we ought to hear!
But with the scriptures, hearing takes some discernment and interpretation. The words of the prophets in the Bible are directed to people living thousands of years ago, dealing with issues of those times. We are to hear the message and apply it to ourselves. The message is often about honesty and integrity and worshiping God in sincerity and truth. Often the words are directed at religious and civil leaders who are acting unjustly toward the people. How is our sincerity, our justice toward others? When we worship, is it mostly empty ritual or are we acting justly and “walking humbly with our God,” as Micah tells us?
With parables, the message is less direct. Jesus speaks in stories, images, little twists which are aimed at getting us to look again at our lives. Where is the Reign of God? How is the Reign of God present to us? Jesus bases his stories on ordinary things: farming, gardening, shepherding, baking.
The thought occurs to me that we could use his formula and apply it to ourselves. “The Reign of God is like our family gathered at Thanksgiving.” “The Reign of God is like my workplace.” “The Reign of God is like taking care of my grandchildren.” There could be many examples. If we believe God is present to us everywhere, then why not see our stories as parables of that presence? What do we see? What do we hear?