Parabolic Challenges

 “You dare your ‘yes’, and experience a meaning; you repeat your ‘yes’, and all things acquire a meaning. When everything has a ‘yes’, how can you live anything but a ‘yes’?”

(Dag Hammarskjold, 2nd Sec-Gen, United Nations)

Listen to Polenc’s “Stabat Mater”, Doloroso here:


Mark 12: 13-17 and Parallels (Bible Hub Parallels, pg. 145)

What is the question put to Jesus?

Who asks it?

What are the implications?

What happens if Jesus says ‘yes’?

What happens if Jesus says ‘no’?

What is happening in Jesus?

What is Jesus’ response? 

What enables Jesus to make this radical statement? 

When we enter the Kingdom do we work in the social sphere or do we enter the Kingdom by working in the social sphere?

What quality is given to our social work when we have our inner focus on our relationship with God?

What are some important outer world social issues?

Matthew 21:28-31

28 “What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not’; but afterward he repented and went. 30 And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.”

What is the essential point of the parable in Mt. 21:28-31 ?

What is specifically asked?

What ultimately comes from the vineyard?

What is required (all the steps) to make wine?

Who grows the grapes?

What does God provide? 

What does God need?

What is the response of the first son?   of second?

What do words of the 2nd son say about his attitude and relationship with his father?

What do words of the 1st son say about his attitude and relationship with his father

Note: Illustrates the difference between intention and commitment. With the 1st son, the inner resistances are dealt with as well, and the whole self is brought to the task.

Luke 11:1-13

He was praying in a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread; and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive every one who is indebted to us; and lead us not into temptation.”

And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him whatever he needs. And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

What does the parable follow?

How might the parable be related to the prayer?

What is the main point of the parable?

What is the need of the person on a journey?

When does he come?

What is the situation of the person in the middle?

What does he have?

What does he have to do to get bread?

What does he have to overcome?

What reaction does he get when he knocks?

What gets him what he wants? 

What enables him to do this?

In light of the proximity of the parable to the Lord’s Prayer, what does this suggest about God?

The one who is in bed responds how?

How does this challenged your concept of God?

Luke 14:12-24

12 He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your kinsmen or rich neighbours, lest they also invite you in return, and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”

15 When one of those who sat at table with him heard this, he said to him, “Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many; 17 and at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for all is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it; I pray you, have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them; I pray you, have me excused.’ 20 And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported this to his master. Then the householder in anger said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”

If we assume the one who throws the party is meant to represent God, what qualities does God exhibit here? 

What is the nature of the banquet?

What is the response to the invitations?

What is God’s response?

How much room is available?

In the last verse, what is God’s response?

Is this punishment or is it just a fact of life?

Does God seem angry? If so, what causes the anger?

What is the nature of the excuses?

What are the ways you find not to attend? 

Who do come?

What do you suppose they respond?

Matthew 25:1-15 and Parallels  (Bible Hub Parallels, pg. 151)

Who has Christianity related to the bridegroom?

Who is Jesus using the bridegroom to represent?

The tradition of the Jewish wedding feast in Jesus era was characterised by the arrival of the groom at an indeterminate time, with surprise being the goal.

What characteristics are given to God in this story?

What do the five wise virgins know about reality that the foolish ones don’t?

When does the bridegroom come?

What does Jesus say about the reality of God’s coming?

When can these moments happen?

Activity: Mime the parable twice: first as the foolish virgins, then as wise ones.

Write:  What did the experience say to you about yourself?

What did it feel like in each of the two roles?

What is going on in God when he says, “I know you not”?

Note: God didn’t shut the door; it was simply shut.  Who shut it?

Matthew 25:15-30 and Parallels  (Bible Hub Parallels, pg. 151)

What is a talent?

What are the qualities of God portrayed in this parable?

What is the response to the first two servants?

What has invited this response?

What perception of the master allowed them to take the risk?

What has the third one done?

What was his perception of the master that led to this action?

What is the response of the master to the third servant?

Is this result punishment or a fact of life?

What does the master (God) want from us?

What happens if we fail to do this?

What is the nature of the God/human relationship?

What part of you has the least, i.e. what part of you is symbolised by the 3rd servant? Write. 

What have you buried? Write. 

What happens to it if it is not used? Write.

Taken all together, which part of Jesus’ images of God challenges you the most? Write. 

Luke 17:20-21

20 Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

What is the question?

What is the answer? 

What is the most radical aspect of this answer for the people of the time?

If the Kingdom of God was in the midst of us, what would society be like?

Note the footnote: “in your midst” can also mean “within you”.  This would be heretical in the extreme. What does it mean to you to know that the Kingdom of God is within you?

Activity:  Close eyes and imagine the Kingdom of God within you? Touch it.  What does it feel like? (Write)

Luke 10:30-37

30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, 34 and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

Meditation: Close your eyes and imagine yourself as the beaten man on the side of the road. Note how you feel. Who comes by? What happens?  

Who are the priests and Levites? 

Where are they on the social scale?

Why do they pass by? 

What is going on in them?

What does the Samaritan represent?

What is his reaction? What does he do?

What part of his comprehensive care touches you most?

What enables the Samaritan to stop and help? Who are the wounded one in our world? 

Who are the robbers?

Who are the Samaritans?  

What are the inns?

Now look at it also as an inner story.  Who are your inner robbers, who left the child stripped and beaten? 

Who is the wounded one in you? What was an early wound?

Who are the priests and Levites in you? How are their attitudes expressed? 

Who or what is the reality of the Samaritan for you?

Who or what is the reality of the Samaritan within you?

Mime the parable and write down what comes up for you as you do it? or dialogue with the Samaritan as your wounded one.

Where do you see God in this parable?

Note: at Epidaurus, a healing centre in ancient Greece, there was a quotation from Apollo’s son, Asclepius: “God sends the wound, God is in the wound, God is wounded, God heals the wound.”

If you were to accept this as true, what would it say about your wounds? 

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