‘He spoke to them in parables…’
People flocked to Jesus.
They saw something in him which was utterly unique and unexpected, and yet paradoxically, something which seemed to correspond to the deepest desire of their hearts.
The followed after him and hung on every word he said, yearning to come to know more about him, and what gave his life such meaning. People wanted him to educate them in how they could come to perceive reality in the way in which he saw it.
Thankfully, Jesus is a great teacher. The parable was a key part of his pedagogical technique. Parables speak to us on a number of levels, and they always force us to do some intellectual work. When Jesus uses these parables, he gives his listeners an opportunity to see the fundamentally constitutive relationship that exists between faith and life. This is an important point. Italian priest and theologian Fr Luigi Giussani once wrote, ‘only a faith arising from life experience and confirmed by it (and, therefore, relevant to life’s needs) could be sufficiently strong to survive in a world where everything pointed in the opposite direction.’
If we allow the faith to become just one facet of our lives, or just that one thing we do on a Sunday, we separate life from faith, which fundamentally impoverishes both life and the faith.
St Augustine wrote that ‘A mustard seed looks small. Nothing is less noteworthy to the sight, but nothing is stronger to the taste. What does that signify but the very great fervour and inner strength of faith in the Church?’ (Sermon 246.3). Let us always look for how the faith permeates our whole life, the whole of reality. Am I awake to perceive it?
Point to Ponder
“As a result of the education I received at home, my seminary training, and my reflections later in life, I came to believe deeply that only a faith arising from life experience and confirmed by it (and, therefore, relevant to life’s needs) could be sufficiently strong to survive in a world where everything pointed in the opposite direction, so much so that even theology for a long time had given in to a faith separated from life. Showing the relevance of faith to life’s needs, and therefore – and this ‘therefore’ is important –showing that faith is rational, implies a specific concept of rationality. When we say that faith exalts rationality, we mean that faith corresponds to some fundamental, original need that all men and women feel in their hearts.”
Luigi Giussani, The Risk of Education, pp. 11-12.