Parable and Persuasion

Today’s Readings

As a gardener, I’ve always appreciated Jesus’s descriptions of growing things as a metaphor for our journey of faith. The parable of the sower (Matthew 13) certainly challenges us to tend the soil of our hearts even as we sow seeds of justice. But as I read the gospel this week, I found that it was actually Jesus’s dialogue with his disciples that caught my attention—probably because of my exasperation with a political culture that makes even basic safety measures like wearing masks into a contentious issue, never mind racial and economic justice. 

parable, persuasion

The Sower – Vincent Van Gogh

Asked why he speaks in parables, Jesus basically says that not everyone is going to get it:

For this people’s heart has grown dull,
     and their ears are hard of hearing,
          and they have shut their eyes;
          so that they might not look with their eyes,
     and listen with their ears,
and understand with their hearts and be converted—
and I would heal them. 

It might not seem particularly hopeful to acknowledge that some of the people we encounter will be “hard ground” when it comes to promoting the justice of God’s kingdom, but I found it somehow consoling and freeing to hear this kind of realism from Jesus. I also found it intriguing that Jesus’s “strategy” in response is not to double down on instruction and argumentation or facts or force with such people, but to tell a story to those with ears to hear. 

What might it mean for us to do likewise in our own advocacy and activism? What are the stories that have softened our hearts or challenged and inspired us to do justly and love mercy? What difference would it make if we were to stop arguing with those who ‘hear but do not listen’ so that we can till the soil of a movement by telling its stories?

4 replies
  1. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Life is a precious gift. We have not arrived on our own. We need to keep on speaking truth to power as we join the rest of mankind, marching ahead to our final destination.

  2. Eileen W. Novotny
    Eileen W. Novotny says:

    You are so right. This encourages me to take a step back with my “neighbors” and take this approach. It is exhausting to have conversations that turns into listening to the partisan gospel according to Trump and know that facts and rational discussion will not be heard. I am going to pray and ponder what stories I am being called to listen with to with my heart and share with others at the appropriate time.

  3. Mr Anon
    Mr Anon says:

    People have the right to “ignore or take part” in conversations that is a human trait that we all knowingly do, some people get irritated because they want to get the other person to agree with all there points of view but if the person doesn’t get involved then no conversation or confrontation will not happen and there ideology can’t be expressed and continue. It’s like a chain each section is a person you have spoke to and got on your side eventually the chain snaps when you meet the opposite or even agrees certain points but this is not good for you___So you start to make a new chain,same views and no approach changes will always end up with a broken chain regardless of the message. God Bless


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