Daily Readings Reflection for 11/06/09

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Reflection on the Daily Readings for Today by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM

Today’s Readings

Scripture: Lectionary # 489. Fri of 31 week. Romans 15:14-21. Psalm
81:1.2-3.3-4. Luke 16:1-8:

Jesus is a parable preacher par excellence. No where in the Bible are there
so many gathering of parables as we have in the Gospels except for that of
St. John who speaks more in symbolic figures of speech that are more
abstract.  The parable describes the style of Jesus who never missed an
opportunity for a teaching moment with this his favorite “genre.”  He does
this with such facility and frequency that forces his listeners–and we are
among them– to think the thoughts of God and to actuate their meaning and
motivation in our own daily practices and decisions.  Parables are colorful
and attractive; they easily fascinate and capture our attention and after
thinking about them we can easily see them as helpful in making our
decisions about doing good and avoiding evil and the wiles of temptation.
Jesus spoke them from his experiences of life and from he learned in his
small town of Nazareth where his own extended family probably met and
shared such creative stories that helped him learn how to be the parable
speaker that he is.  Like Jesus, we, too love to hear little stories and
anecdotes that help us. You certainly remember how your mother taught you
some rhymes and little stories to help you be good or to watch out for
danger.  Jesus learned from his mother Mary and from his relatives in that
little town of simple farmers. His mind was being filled with such creative
images and became a resource for his own mature years of preaching the Good
News.  We are fortunate that the Gospels collected all that they could
remember about Jesus’ speaking in parables.

Jesus’s Jewishness is vibrantly alive in these parables.  They have many
sides to them and become as interesting to solve as a crossword puzzle or
sudoku square.  Even the experts whom we call “exegetes” interpret them in
different ways from time to time.  In Hebrew thought these parables fit
under the word “mashal” which means similes, metaphors, riddles, turning
your thought upside down,  proverbs, maxims, fables,etc.  These creative
ways of Jewish prophets and Jesus who is among them are not what we call
historical anecdotes or realities but they are true to our life experiences
and thus become perennial in their application.  One World Fair had a film
called “The Parable” and this is who Jesus is for those who take the time
to read, to pray , or to study the Gospels. We know well there is no real
historical person who is the Prodigal Son or the Indulgent Father; nor is
the Good Samaritan a historical character yet these examples hop with life
once we ponder over their meaning; they help us to get outside of ourselves
and to appreciate the call to “be all who we can be.”   They have power and
strong appeal. They motivate us to do something about our lives.

Undoubtedly, Jesus did not have these parables infused into his brain by
the Spirit. He developed them by listening to his mother tell about how
yeast rises in the lump of dough; how she searched for the coin she had
lost; how fig trees have signs of maturing with fruit. and how you sew a
garment with appropriate thread and color.  He learned much from the woman
who loved to ponder over the things she experienced; she weighed them daily
for her own way of getting through another tough day of work and attention
to Jesus and Joseph. Luke captured this glimpse of her being a great story
teller with Jesus as her favorite listener: “And Jesus increased in wisdom
and in years and in divine and human favor .”  (Luke 2:52).

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