The Mustard Seed.
Unfortunately, separateness is the chosen stance of most of us, which makes it difficult for us to live in unity and love with the each other. Our small selves take one side or the other to feel secure. It frames reality in a two-fold way: for me or against me, totally right or totally wrong, my group’s opinion or another group’s. All these keep us apart, forever unable to unite as one. This is the best our small egotistical selves can do; it is so far from adequate that we can no longer recognize how far apart we are. We call this intelligence, but it is not wisdom. Wisdom is something we are sorely lacking in our lonely, separate lives.
How can we truly believe that we are complete, or compleat, people? Until we can recognize the fact that as long as there are people who are starved for food, housing, love, and a myriad of other basic human needs, we cannot say that we are happy. There has been a great uproar over our border policies and the separation of children. Yet, there is no uproar at the number of families begging for a few dollars at an intersection into mall. These families are just as in need as those on the borders. They may not be separated, but they are being punished for being poor and in need. As many of us give them a dollar or two, what they really need is more substantial that we as individuals can give. We must as a society work to eliminate this blight on our human existence.
I am an ardent reader; I read great literature, cheap mystery novels, books on meditation, spiritual development, great and not so great poetry; and, I read the Bible, mainly the four gospels. From each of these, I try to glean something that will enlighten me (except for the cheap mystery; those are for fun). I try to dig a little deeper each time I read something to try to understand what the author is saying. This is particularly true when reading Jesus’s parables. I learned the parables when I was a boy growing up in East Orange, New Jersey. I studied them more in Sunday School in Summit, New Jersey.
Each time, my teachers boiled the stories down to simple basic life lessons, as do most of the ministers I hear when preaching about these from the pulpits. None of these parables are easily understood. Jesus was constantly berating his disciples because they did not understand. But what did he expect; they were simple folk, fisherman and the like. They probably had very little formal education and what Bible learning they had came verbally from the local rabbi, who probable did not have much more education than they did.
Jesus’s stories beg us to interpret them for ourselves. We are no longer first century Jews living under Roman Rule; but we are twenty-first century humans living under our own forms of oppressive governments. And if you don’t believe this, try walking down the center of your town naked! Not that I’m a nudist, but you get my point; our society is filled with just as many petty laws as the Roman governed Jewish communities is Jesus’s time.
Consider the parable of the mustard seed. I see so many ways to interpret this, as an educator, as a concerned citizen who observes the homeless, and as a member of a society that allows our government to separate children from their families. There are many lessons to be learned from these parables.
Try reading one; associate it with what your life is like; then apply it to those around you; then broaden that to include all in your sphere, whatever that might be. If you see a problem that could be solved by your understanding of it, then maybe it’s time to stand up, make known the issue, and try to correct this. My wonderful wife and two of her friends did this by beginning a market-style food table for those in our community who are not as fortunate as we are. Look on Facebook for The Table at St George’s and see what a few people have done with the story of the mustard seed.
I’ve done preaching for the day. Bless you all; have a glorious day.