The Kingdom in Parables: Introduction

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Part of "The Kingdom in Parables: New Testament, Cosmology and Contemporary Poetry"

1. The Kingdom in Parables: Introduction

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Let me say something about themes that will keep coming up as we go on during a couple of days. One is the theme of delightful knowing. Delightful knowing. We're not always used to connecting delight with knowledge. But there's a long tradition in Christianity, a wisdom tradition, a sapiential tradition. In fact, the contemplative tradition of Christianity is really about that. We have a tendency to be suspicious of it and to think that there must be something wrong with it. And perhaps the idea of delightful knowing gets beaten out of us in school. I don't mean literally beaten, but worn out of us in school. Because our knowledge tends to be so much informational and so quantitative nowadays. And often it's a kind of knowledge that moves us out away from our center instead of towards our center. There's a tradition, a strong tradition, in all the old worlds we live in, of another kind of knowing. Now, if Jesus is the wisdom of God, then he is also the delightful knowing of God.


The delightful knowledge of God. If we speak of Jesus as the Word who comes with the Spirit, the Word who is accompanied by the Spirit, then he is the Word who is accompanied by delight. We tend to moralize our religion to the extent that we think we should always move in another direction. Indeed, we have to move in a direction. Jesus is unequivocal about that. You have to do the work, not enough to hear it. Don't tell me, Lord, Lord, if you haven't done what I ask you to do. However, the other end of that is that this knowledge is meant to be delightful. It is delightful. And that's what draws us forward. You hardly ever hear of Jesus as being... You're going to hear of the beauty of Jesus sometimes. We're a little bashful even about talking about that. There's good reason for that. But the fact that this revelation of God which we're given, this gift, this Word of God, is something that is supremely delightful, supremely attractive. There's a gravitational power in it, a magnetic power in it, which is, if we let it, sufficient to overcome every other magnitude, every other gravitation.


Now, wisdom Christianity is based on that conviction, that if you open yourself to this Word, if you open yourself to this wisdom of God, it will pull you, it will draw you. It will also energize you and transform you. It's going to make you into something new, which is also what you most deeply always have been. But it's something delightful. And therefore we can, with some confidence, follow our delight as we read the Gospel. Now, this is related to parables, because the parable is a form of... well, it's a form of entertainment also. Jesus is doing a bit of entertainment when he's standing in the boat there, sitting in the boat and preaching to the people in parables. It's like teaching, it's like morality wrapped in entertainment. And I say wrapped, but it's not quite that, because somehow you can go all the way down, all the way inside, and it's still delightful. This knowledge of God, which we have in Jesus Christ, is delightful all the way to the bone.


My authorities for that are somebody like Maximus Confessor in the East, who will talk about the sunshine of Christ illuminating the intellect with a kind of supreme pleasure. Or John of the Cross, who's always talking about the delightful secret knowledge of God, the delightful secret wisdom which God imparts to the spirit in contemplation. So when we think about parables, I don't think we should forget that. The parable is meant to be... our words are not quite adequate for it, but the parable is meant to be delightful, a delightful way of knowing. Remember that wisdom itself in the Western tradition is thought to be loving knowledge. But loving knowledge is also delightful knowledge. And there's a point within us where the love and the knowledge become one thing. Remember Saint Augustine's image of the human person, the image of God in the human person, as being memory, intellect and will. It's as if that memory is the center of ourselves in some way. That's the source, that's the image of the Father, the image of the beginning,


and the common source from which knowledge and love come forth. And if we get deep enough into ourselves, deep enough into that root, into that source, then the two become one. The knowledge and love are somehow indivisible and separable. Now that happens both in the scriptures, and the kind of revelation we get in the scriptures. If you suddenly see people encountering Jesus, they're finding in him a knowledge which they cannot express, a knowledge which is more than they can put into words. They tend to be sort of bowled over by the amount of light that's in him, and they don't know what to do with it. But also by a delight that's irresistible. When the first disciples in John's Gospel, in the first chapter there, are moving from John the Baptist towards Jesus, and they ask him, they ask him, where do you dwell? Where do you dwell? And he says, well, come and see. Come and see. The words are very pregnant. And the words are saturated with that delight which is in the wisdom letters of the Bible.


Remember those texts from Proverbs, and Wisdom, and Sirach, about Solomon seeking wisdom as he cried. I don't think we take those texts seriously, because they have a lot of meaning for us. They've never been really opened up in our Christian tradition. Remember those words of Wisdom, words of Sophia in Sirach. Come to me you who desire me, and eat the fill of my produce, my fruit. For the remembrance of me is sweeter than honey, and my inheritance sweeter than the honeycomb. Those who eat me will hunger for more, and those who drink me will thirst for more. Remember Jesus says those words of Wisdom. He turns them around a little bit for Jesus. Jesus is identified with wisdom in the New Testament. Of course, that becomes a kind of stopper, just because you feel that everything has been revealed to him. But the wisdom goes on, the fascination keeps on moving. It's never put into words, it's never completely articulated, completely expressed. There's a kind of aura, or energy field, of this delight, of this fascination,


this magnetism, which surrounds Jesus, which surrounds his words. So as we go on with the Scriptures, we tend to become more sensitive to it. And that's the kind of key to Lectio Divina, to reading the Scriptures, is falling in love with that Word. Just loving to be with it, like loving to be with a person, loving to be with a friend. Just for the delight that, I won't say constantly, but reliably, continually, consistently, comes from that Word. And if we try too hard to translate the Word into something we can understand, we tend to kill that, we tend to filter it out. To the extent that we have to comprehend perfectly what's being said, we tend to, we have to remove exactly that delight. We make it too objective. So we need what Keats calls, what, the negative capability? The poet Keats, I think it was negative capability, the ability to remain with something without complete understanding,


without having to digest it completely, or transform it, or translate it into our own terms. It's something like living with ambiguity, because it's a very positive kind of ambiguity. We have to do a lot of that if we want to get into the Scriptures. So one theme is that delightful knowing. Remember the words of Paul in Philippians, I count everything as lost because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. He connects that worth with knowing Christ. Now knowing is a lot more than knowing in the head, because he goes on to say that I may be one with him in his resurrection, remember, and to know his passion and death, that I may be one with him in the resurrection. So the knowing is a union. If we talk about a knowing which is delightful, the knowing and the delight are both moving towards union. In fact, the knowledge and the delight are both, as it were, what we call emanations or the expressions or the signs of a progressive union. And that's where it's going.


And you do get the kind of nuptial resonance to it, don't you? Just as we do in the words of wisdom, the words of Confucius that I read to you. So the parables are loaded with wisdom. When you read in Matthew's Gospel, the Kingdom of God is like a treasure, which when they enchanted him in the field, they went off and sold everything to buy that field. You get that sense of delight, that sense of magnitude. Finding the pearl, the merchant who was in search of one fine pearl, and he found that one. That's pure wisdom, I mean. And it's pure language of delightful knowing, of a knowledge which is beyond price. And it's not a knowledge that can be circumscribed, because this knowledge is a person. The King of God is Jesus. The person, but not a person in exactly the same way, with exactly the same kind of presence that you and I have, because he's interior to us. He's interior to us, and that's why he contains all of us. We all hold together in the world within him.


So, very mysterious. I'll also use the word epiphany. On that first handout with a schedule on it, there's a quote from Charles Taylor. I came across a wonderful book called Sources of the Self by Charles Taylor. He's apparently a Canadian philosopher. What he's trying to do is trace the origin of the modern self, the modern western self. He goes way back to St. Augustine. In fact, he goes back as far as Plato. And then he goes through the Middle Ages, the Protestant Reformation, and the Puritan period, and so on. He's picking up all these elements, as it were, and puts them together to form the modern self, which for him is becoming a rational self, an expressive self, a creative self. I would call it, in some way, a solar self. I'll be using that word solar quite a lot, except for that symbol of the sun. It's very interesting to follow that development.


And I think as we follow it, we begin to understand what kind of spirituality we can have in the West, as Westerners, as modern Westerners. That we cannot go back to the time of the Buddhists. We cannot go back to the time of the Desert Sages. We cannot go back quite to the time of Jesus. Something else is happening. And the thing that's happening, I believe, is because of what happened in the Christ-Circumstance. Because the Holy Spirit is driving history forward. I'll come back to that again. He talks about epiphanies. Now, for him, an epiphany is what the poets are doing for ever since Romantic times, for the last 200 years. What they're trying to do is the best of the poets. What they're trying to do is bring out, somehow, the transcendence within the ordinary. In nature, in our own lives, in one another, and so on. And this is something that wasn't being done before. And it's particularly tied up with this idea


of the creative imagination. Of the human person being creative. The human person being somehow, essentially, creative. So, an epiphany is a kind of revelation. An epiphany in religion, an epiphany in the Bible, is a manifestation of God, an appearance of God. Well, these epiphanies are brought out somehow through human creativity. And he says that that's what art has to be able to do in order to touch us, in order to reach us nowadays. The manifestation, the truth of God, has to move through the human person in a creative way because it's really going to touch us. It's really going to move us. I've had a horrible thought for a long time that religion kills poetry. I think it does, if the religion has not been transformed by the poetry. Or maybe if the poetry hasn't been traditionally transformed by the religion.


But if you take religious belief, which has not gone through the creative process, which has not gone through, you can say, the bowels of the individual person, and come out in a transformed way, then it somehow remains an alien thing in poetry. And it tends to suppress the poetry with its direction. We'll come back to this later. But there's something in unassimilated belief that hasn't become flesh and bone, that hasn't become bread, that murders poetry. It short-circuits it in some way. It goes straight to the absolute, grounds it in some way, takes the energy out of it. That's a mystery, and it shouldn't be that way. And the problem that we can propose ourselves is how do we get the two back together again? Well, it has something to do with discovering our creativity, and the fact that where we're going to find God very often is in that very discovery, in that very epiphany, in that very creative moment. And not just the special peak moment, but the kind of consciousness that gives you, the kind of confidence that gives you that the same thing is there everywhere,


virtually and all the time, and that you can always find it, and it's always there. Not only that it's always there around you, but it's always there within you, because that's what you are. Suppose you are a being of epiphany. Suppose you are a being who has the power to bring forth from within yourself, and from within what's around you, the presence of God, in a new way, and in a way which does not, what would you call it, obliterate or suppress the thing itself, either yourself, in fact it brings it out, because it's your creativity, it's close to the center of your person, or the other person, or nature. But somehow, somehow brings itself out from its own center. That would be sort of the thesis. And that hasn't always been there. It hasn't always been the same. Something's emerging in history. And so this idea of epiphany is connected with that. You can say that in some way we move from parable to epiphany. We move from the received, revealed parable, which is already there, and which we in a sense have to interpret, we try to interpret, to something which is coming out of ourselves.


And that which comes out of ourselves, we can call epiphany, but you can tell it here. So that's one historical thing that's happening. And I think it happens in a sense as we move from east to west. It happens as we move from ancient times to modern times. I think this creativity I'm talking about belongs particularly to the western world, and belongs particularly to the modern age. So in the modern west it goes crazy and starts transforming the world in all kinds of ugly ways, as well as good ways. But that's very significant. The whole thing is very significant because humanity, the human person, is discovering himself in a new way. Now if you believe that that reality, that creative reality within the human person is really rooted in Christ, really rooted in the Christ event, then it makes all the difference. That's the kind of faith I think that the Church is acquiring, has signified in Vatican II, when we begin to look at history in a positive way rather than a negative way. It's the kind of faith that Teilhard has,


when he sees the Christ omega, the Christ energy at the heart of history and evolution moving us forward. I think we need that kind of faith because otherwise we have to more or less bottle ourselves up in a ghetto, fortify ourselves, and defend ourselves against everything that moves, and defend ourselves against it. The Church did that for 500 years and got kind of stuffy. This other idea of the sun, this image of the sun I'll be going back to, it's been kind of obsessive with me for a while. I don't know why. It comes from a couple of sides. It comes from the side just of modern science and the idea of what's going on inside the sun and what's going on inside a star. This nuclear fusion reaction that happens there, that nuclear furnace that they talk about in which all of the elements of our own body, all the elements of our world, are created in that fusion reaction. That star, which is autonomous,


which is feeding from within itself in some way, and which seemingly inexhaustibly puts forth light and heat, light and warmth, which is responsible for all the life that we have in the sun. That's a tremendously powerful symbol. A powerful symbol which Christianity has to re-appropriate. If Christianity sometimes seems feeble, I think it's forgotten because it's forgotten Christ as the sun. Not only that, but it's forgotten that Christ as the sun gives that sun stuff to us, transforms us into that which he is, so that we are solar beings, so that we are solar stars. We are sun stuff. We can talk about the infinite sun. And that principle becomes a kind of principle of interpretation, I believe. For instance, if you take that idea that Jesus is, as it were, the archetype of the sun, that he is what the sun stands for, that Christ is, that God is, if you like, and then that that is what we become,


it becomes a principle of interpretation which opens up the scriptures, opens up parables as well. You have to apply it in a kind of loose way. It's a powerful principle. And I think it verifies itself again and again. But we'll have to draw out some of the implications of it. You'll find that a lot of the poems in the collection that you have relate to the sun in one way or another. And that's not entirely accidental. Although some of them are happy discoveries, like the sun poems of Mary Oliver. They're quite powerful. And you'll find that she tends to kind of move toward the world of gold all the time. Whether she's talking about gold pincers or golden rod, she's talking about the sun itself. Or talking about fire, she'll, towards the end of her poems, she tends to move into the mode of fire. And Wallace Stevens was, I think, sort of dominated by the sun image for the whole of his life. And he identified with it in some way. He identified it with his creative imagination. For him, the sun is his creative imagination.


And it has a lot of different mutations. It will become a candle flame at one point, and a star at another point, and a light at another point, something like that. But the central one is the most powerful one, is the sun. So a couple of his poems that he has here express that. I think that is typical of something that Christianity has to find once again in order to find its rigor. And by that I'm not saying that Christianity is totally infeasible. But we're aware of, what do you call it, we're aware of not quite having it together. We're aware of having a strength and a fullness inside ourselves which we have not yet appropriated, which we have not yet made ours. We're aware of an alienation in Christianity, a certain, what do you call it, discomfort, a certain uncertainty, even while there's an enormous certainty in the ground. But there's an uncertainty about how to stand on the ground, an uncertainty about how to rediscover the ground, an uncertainty about how to relate to history,


how to relate to humanity. If we're a little bit off-centric, some of these symbols can be very powerful to find ourselves once again. But God tends to relate to us, I think, more through symbols than through ideas. And therefore poetry is a language in which I think God speaks. Nowadays also science is a language in which God speaks, because the science brings forth before the universe in which we live a new power, a new immediacy source, because if we're close to everything, close to these stupendous stellar bodies and so on, and dust clouds, and the stars are born and all of that, it's like we're taken back into the beginning of the book of Genesis once again, just like the astronauts take it out there, and I think they feel that somehow we're in a sacred instance, and eagerly they have that experience. We get pulled beyond our little routines and so on, and we're in that refined air of the sacred. We discover that somehow everything is sacred from that perspective. So I'll present just some ideas


from the new cosmology. They're not all new ideas either. The new cosmologies, not the sun and stars particularly, which seem to me to be in a way palatable. It's frustrating if you look for a clear analogy, for instance, between the life of a star and our own spiritual life. It looks very promising, and at a certain point it's a dear thought, and it doesn't quite click. But I think that's the way it should be for a parable. You're not supposed to be able to, what do you call it, put a hook on a parable and anchor it directly. You're supposed to float freely there and continue to inform you and continue to, what do you call it, enliven you through the distance, through the space between the parable and yourself, as it were, between the parable and your understanding. There's a space there. Somebody called it a creative emptiness, which is required if anything really is going to happen. And now that creative emptiness, like the difficulty of a modern poem


or the difficulty of a parable, I think is about participation. It resists you so that you will be forced to become one with it. It resists you as if it were to say to you, I will not open myself to you until you become what I am, until you become me, or until you find within yourself what I am. The only way that you will know me is by discovering yourself as what I am. Now that's something that comes to us also, I think, in humanity, doesn't it? We speak about compassion and love and those deep things in the Gospel. They involve that kind of mathematics, that kind of relationship. You will not know me until you become what I am, until you discover yourself as what I am. We move towards that, I think, in relating with one another. We move towards it also with the cosmos, with the universe. And so we're discovering ourselves. Now this poetry doesn't have a lot to do with discovering ourselves. In fact, it becomes obsessive about it.


You know, the whole thing of originality and of self-discovery in our time. It's like something gone mad, but at the heart of it, there's something urgent, there's something very necessary, and something which is also, I believe, rooted in the New Testament, in the Gospels, in the Jesus Spring. I go back once again to Owen Barfield and his idea that the incarnation, the coming of Jesus, is the point at which the human person becomes no longer a student of the cosmos, no longer just a pupil of the cosmos, imitating, copying, on the walls of Paris, or maybe in a Greek temple, or a Jewish temple, or wherever, no longer just a disciple and a pupil of the universe, but begins to have a creating relationship to the universe, begins to transform the universe from inside itself. Now that's an idea of tremendous power, and I think it's really there. It's a good exercise to look for that


in the New Testament itself, to see where you can find that. One place is where Jesus says, remember, they were accusing him and his disciples of eating without washing their hands. But Jesus says, well it's not what comes into the mouth that defiles a person, it's what comes out of the mouth, what comes out of the heart. It's not what comes in that matters, it's what comes out. Now he was talking in a negative sense, of defilement, but it's also true in a positive sense. It's not what comes in, it's what comes out. And between what comes in and what comes out is the power of the human person, the freedom of the human person, to generate, to create. Number two, give life what you take life, as Jesus says at another point, when he's dealing on the Sabbath. Okay, that's the point we have to find. And that's why poetry is important, largely, I think. Not only because it gives us a different vision of nature, enables us to see nature as a unit of ours, but it tells us who we are. It sort of jump-starts the motor


so that we realize who we are and what we are. Not creating this or that, but with a basic capacity for newness inside ourselves. A basic capacity for renewing, for self-affirmation, as Taylor would say, and self-affirmation, self-discovery, which is also recreating oneself at that very moment, because the spirit of God is inside us. Remember Irenaeus, when asked what he had brought into the world, he would say, well he brought himself, and when he brought himself he brought all newness. And the Ipsum fortans omnum novitacens, the father, bringing himself, he brought all newness. But the newness that he brought is not a newness once and for all. It's a power of newness. It's an energy of newness. It's not that Jesus wound up the clock at 32, as they do. It's that he put the fire of the spirit inside us, which means that we have that power of newness, and each one of us has to feel it


at every moment, all the time. And that's what burns through our neurosis, I think. That's what cuts through all the baggage and all the heaviness and all the wounds and all the wounds that we lick and that we cherish and kind of are falling in love with our own misery. It cuts through all of that, just like the sun burning through the clouds. That's what we're given, that's who we are. So, inside this kind of comparing of parables and poems is an idea of an exegesis, of a reading, both of ourselves and of these texts, in which this one simple reality emerges, which I call the solar reality, where the solar self or the inner sun or the Christ sun or whatever you want to call it. And the image of the sun is optional. You could probably use another image. But that one has a superior authority about it. It kind of rules up there, doesn't it? And it's always there.


And it somehow is a perfect image of that which is always with us, illuminates everything we do, gives us our life, and yet is continually forgotten as we kind of bury ourselves in this particulate. So, as we recollect, as we recollect that image once again, we could be drawn back to our own senses and recollect what is there and who is there. And what has happened, the change that's happened, it happens in waves, it happens in vistas. And we're on a particularly powerful wave right now. I think it's the end of the 20th century. Excuse me if I wandered off a little bit. But there are two, two, I think, historical principles that will be among the things that will emerge. One is that business of the creative person emerging, which I've just been talking about. The other one I call the Western principle, or the principle of incarnation. We've had so much spirituality


that's been an ascending spirituality. And as if the end of life were union with God, and that's it, okay, or the end of life for contemplation. But I would suppose that that's really the beginning of life that was given to us in baptism. We have to find it continually, we have to go back there once again, dig it out, find it, get back to the beginning, go back to the center and the source, which is our baptism, and which is the illuminated fullness of our being. But then our job is to move from there, is to live from there out into the world, and to incarnate that great creation in being. Okay. So our business really is living. Our business really is human living. It's not the seeking of one particular. The revelation and the gift somehow is plenary in Jesus. But as Christians of the 20th century, most of us, it's that beginning of so far beyond us, I think, that we've lost it. It's no longer in our consciousness. But when we find it, when we find it,


then our business is to live out from that light into the world. That's what you find in Paul, and that's what you find in Jesus. Living from the baptismal fullness, the baptismal illumination, that, what do you call it, full epiphany of my identity as a child of God. Living out from that into the world, into a Eucharist, which is incarnating like grace into the world, and somehow giving it away. And that, I think, is in some way the Christian principle is that movement from God to humanity, movement from the word to the word of God, movement from baptism to Eucharist, movement from contemplation, I don't want to just say to action, but to incarnation. And we're, I think, only discovering that again very gradually, because we've had such a vertical spiritual evolution, because we've had, we inherited it from the Greeks, but from every one of the ancient cultures practically, where you go is up. And Jesus comes into the world and tells us to go down,


down into the world. Because he says, God has made the world and God has affirmed the world in my lovely action. He's not going to take it back, it's not going to get soaked up, absorbed, in a return to God, but it's here for peace. And our job is to affirm it with our own lives. And that would be the difference. So that would be the second historical principle there. Sorry this gets a little complicated. Let's do a couple of poems. Most of those ideas I was mentioning are going to be floating around, but we don't have to worry about lining them up. I'd like to read one or two poems by Mary Oliver, maybe number five and number six are both solar poems. Any volunteers?


Mary Oliver, number five there, I think that's your second favorite poem. Have you ever seen anything in your life more wonderful than the way the sun every evening relaxed and easy floats toward the horizon and neither the clouds or the hills or the rumpled sea end is gone and how it slides again out of the blackness every morning on the other side of the world like a red cloud streaming upward on its heavenly oil say on a morning in early summer at its perfect imperial distance and have you ever felt anything such wild love do you think there is anywhere in any language a word filling enough for the pleasure it fills you


as the sun reaches out as it warms you as you stand there empty handed or have you too turned from this world or have you too gone crazy for power for things she's got an ability just to stay with something just to stay with something rather than back down and I think that's what we have to do very often with the poems especially with the hard poems this is a major poem about the hard poems just stay there and she stays with the sun until the sun seeks back its own words and number six this was another five number six these poems are not


quite in order of time but they all come between 1983 and 1992 so they're published between those pages a volunteer make of yourself a light to the wounded before he dies and think of this every morning as the east begins to tear off its new clouds of darkness to send us the first signal a white man streaked in pink and violet of an evening dream an old man who lay down between a pink cellar tree and a night shift engine knowing that we should come around the light burns upward its thickness and shadows appear around him the villagers gather and stretch forward to listen even before the sun fell even before


the sun fell on the judicial test in the blue air i am touched everywhere by its ocean and yellow waves no doubt we've thought of everything that has happened in this difficult life and then i feel the sun fell as it blazes over the hills like a moon flowers on fire swirling on our universe yet i feel myself turning into something of inexplicable value slowly beneath the branches he laid to take he looked into the faces of that frightened crowd i think that's the inner sun i think that's the sun


volunteers from gubbenox number one stevens number one that strange cloud and sun was just what it said at a early age the world is earth and the people are sats that I talk to young children that animal farms are just what you say. The sadness inspires that we have a new way. The world is ugly, and people are sad. He's not content with the chance of being there with his son. He's got to do this kind of ironic thing. Haven't you always? The world is ugly, and the people are sad. But you feel the power coming out of it, about what he's saying about his son.


Do you feel that sun inside him, that's peeking there? He says that, that tuft of jungle feather, that kind of metaphoric creativity, it's like Johann Sebastian Bach, it's just kind of weeping and burning out. That tuft of jungle feather, that animal eyes, as they say, that savage of fire, that sheep, how do you go with this? So I have a new way about which to think, but the reality is what I feel it is. And the reality is this. The reality spawns these terms, these metaphors, and they just spawn a million of them. And the reality is not just up there, but it's in there as well. There's another one that's a little similar. Who can think of the sun costuming clouds when all the people are shaken? Or of night and dazzled flowers when people awaken and cry and cry for help?


The one antiquity itself, everyone grows suddenly cold. The tea is bad, bread's bad. How can the world so bold be so mad that the people die? If joy shall be without a book, it lies themselves within themselves, if they will look within themselves and will not cry for help. Within, as pillars of the sun, supports of night, the tea, the wine, the bread, the meat is sweet and they will not die. With that movement within again, the discovery of the power of the energy, the fullness within. I don't want to keep you any longer, but I'd like to read a little bit from Mark's great chapter of parables. This is Mark chapter 4. Tomorrow morning we'll be doing this essay on parables, especially so I suggest you bring your Bible if you're going alone. Most of Mark's parables are seed parables, at least they're growing parables.


I think of Mark as sort of the birth gospel. Everything in Mark must be buried before it can arise, before it can emerge, including Jesus, who is the great seed. So here we have the parable of the sower, and the explanation, which probably doesn't come originally from Jesus, and I'm grateful for that, because the explanation can get down to one meaning. It's much better if the parable comes from there like the sun, just radiating meaning after meaning, or giving you a kind of general meaning which then grows in a strong way within you. But then, after that, and after the explanation, he has a bunch of, you might call them parables, you might call them metaphors. And he said to them, Is a lamp brought in to be put under a bushel or under a bed and not on a stand? A lamp, a light, a light which must be on a stand, but the sun must be in the center of the sky in order to illuminate the room. But where is the stand? Where is the lamp?


What is the house? Is it ourselves? And is a lamp a gift? Is a lamp a thing? A thing is a seed that's been planted in the soil. A lamp and a seed is quite a paradox, that they're the same thing. And I think he's always talking about one thing in the parables of the kingdom. He's talking about the history of the kingdom, which is the history of the wisdom of God, which is the history of the one gift that's been given to us, and which, like what the poet talks about, can be expressed in an infinity of metaphors, in all these different expressions, okay? So we go chasing after one or another expression. Somehow we're on the wrong wavelength. Somehow we have to stay with them all, until we get a sense of what's inside of them, which will be not just in the head, but some kind of participation, some kind of a taste of what's inside all these metaphors. For there is nothing hid except to be made manifest, nor is anything secret except to come to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear. Now these may be, some of them staying taken from different places, if not together.


Take heed what you hear. The measure you give will be the measure you get. It's still more than a giving. The measure you give will be the measure you get. Because the reality is, if you possess it, if you in some way conform to the way the reality is, you conform to the way the thing is, you take on the character of the thing. And suppose the character of the thing is giving, then you have to take on the character of that thing, which is to give. And as you give, as you take on that character, then you'll grow. You'll become more of that thing which you are by virtue of giving, which is what it tells you. For to him who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what they have will be taken away. I love that. It's a perfect paradigm. To the one who has, it seems perfectly unjust as well, doesn't it? Perfectly wrong. Because in other places, Jesus is always going for the poor, isn't he? He's always going for the outsiders, for the insiders. Just remember the rich man who was barefoot on his barn,


and built hill runs, and he said, you fools, tonight your soul will do that. It was so difficult. The one who has not will lose even what they have. What is this infinitely precious thing, that if you have it, you will have more? What is this infinitely precious thing, that to have it means increase, to have it means growth, to have it means, it's like capital, to have it means you're there. It is. It's infinite. Once again, it's the same thing, the same gift of God. The same solar gift of God. And then he goes back to another seed parable, the seed in the harvest. And he says, after this, To what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It's like a grain of mustard seed, which when sown upon the ground is the smallest of all the seeds, and when it's sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, such as the birds of the air can make in its shape. Once again, something infinitely smaller, an infinite power inside itself.


Infinitely small, so small we don't even know it's there. We don't even know that's what we are, because of the gifts that we're given. And yet it has the power to fill the garden. Eckhart has a wonderful saying somewhere. He says, well, we are the seeds of God. This is a pear tree, and pear trees grow up into pear trees, so we are the seeds of God. And the seeds of God grow up inside the seeds of God. Well, that's plenty for tonight. Tomorrow morning at nine, let's look at some more New Testament parables. But we'll continue to kind of run poems alongside rhythm. I think the best thing for us to do is to keep mixing things up like that, rather than just taking one department at a time. Thank you.