Parables Unravelled?

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2011/04/04 at 12:32 AM

Following the custom of the Orient, Jesus often employed parables, that favorite form of speech among people who think figuratively.  The parable stimulates the imagination, which in turns illumines the sense behind the suggested image.  However, that sense is not necessarily univocal, as is the abstract teaching, but complexly interwoven into life and the situation of the moment.  Vital truth speaks here in a homophony of many voices, theme, and accompaniment.  In this for it is flexible, now stressing one note, now another.  Thus the parable is a fluctuating, mobile thing and difficult to pin down.  In a barren hour it remains dumb; indeed, it may even be an obstacle to understanding, serving that dark mystery touched upon in Matt.13: “Hearing you will hear, but not understand; and seeing you will see, but not perceive.”

We have heard most of the parables of the New Testament many times, usually so enveloped in the Lord’s authority that unconsciously we accept them without giving much thought to our personal reaction….Only in the clash of thesis and antithesis, is its full clarity released.  (The author, Romano Guardini, goes on to a fascinating analysis of the Prodigal Son and the Last Hour Laborers.)

In a sense, Msgr. Guardini’s writings are meditations.  They are replete with verbal imagery in elegant spiritual prose.  One beautiful example: Jesus looms like a rescuing cliff above the tides of human suffering.

This excerpt is from Romano Guardini’s  THE LORD.



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