B.1 Chapter Seven: The Parables

According to Pope Benedict XVI, The parables bear meaning in every age because we find in them the person of Jesus. In comparison to other allegorical interpretation of texts that were prevalent in the time of Jesus, Jesus’ parables stand out as a piece of real life. The parable is a proclamation of the Kingdom of God, which is realized in the person of Jesus. This is why the parable is a call for faith in Jesus and this call is made anew to all peoples at every age.

But there is a bit of confusion when Jesus says he talks to the people in parables else they be converted and be healed. To understand this, one has to put Jesus in the line of the prophets, for through what He suffered, he draws our attention to the true sign of faith in Him: the cross. Jesus knows the demands of the Kingdom and the possibility of refusal. It is only by gazing on His cross that even the hardened heart can finally “turn and be forgiven.”  

The point of the parables is to lead us to the deepest meaning the Kingdom. This deepest meaning of the Kingdom is the cross. The parable of the good Samaritan is an example of how we can be more like Jesus, by going out of our way, on the everyday road from Jerusalem to Jericho where we see humanity beaten, stripped, and lying half-dead. The parable is an invitation for us believe and follow Jesus not just figuratively but in the reality of human history. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it will not bear fruit.

4 thoughts on “B.1 Chapter Seven: The Parables”

  1. The connection which Benedict XVI makes in this section between the cross and the ‘hiding’ of the truth from the crowds is quite extraordinary. The analogy of Isaiah to Christ in the text helped me to also further understand this saying of Jesus, “less they understand and be healed.” The mastery of Christ to lead us in such a human way is profound, i.e. to call forward what we know, and lead us to the unknown…but only if we desire to listen!

  2. I like the way in which pope Benedict XVI presents the literary devise use by Jesus to teach: The parables. He describes them as “the heart of Jesus’ preaching.” I was not aware of the differentiation between parables and allegories, but I found the pope’s presentation extremely helpful. Not only he describes the differences between the two, but also states the limitations in making this distinction.

  3. Martin, I thought you did an excellent job at summarizing Pope Benedict’s thoughts on parables. In particular, I enjoyed the statement made regarding the “possibility of refusal.” Certainly, the parables can serve as a means to draw one closer to Christ throughout the ages. However, the fact remains that the hardened heart can still refuse the invitation to conversion found in the parables. The parables express the Kingdom of God which is realized in Jesus. The result requires a response of faith in action.

  4. Martin, you clearly have a good understanding of what Pope Benedict was trying to communicate. I, like Jairo, did not know about the differentiation of parables and allegories, and I find that to be a helpful distinction in interpreting Christ’s words. I thought that the assertion that we must read the parables in light of the prophetic tradition (out of which Jesus came) is an excellent point, and, frankly, just common sense Biblical exegesis. That Christ gives us the parables to draw us from what we know to the sign of the Kingdom, the cross, is an apt description of Christ’s pedagogical method.

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