Category Archives: Parables

Small matters

John S.C. Abbot and Jacob Abbot
The Parable of the Talents in the Illustrated New Testament, 1878

Bring a can of food to the food pantry. Stop to say hello to a neighbor. Smile at a stranger. Offer my seat to an elderly person. Listen to a family member. Keep company with someone who is ill or dying. Pray. Thank God for my blessings and burdens.

The small things matter. They teach me to see the people around me. They strengthen me to be with those who are suffering. They add up to this great insight and responsibility: We are all God’s children, here to love one another.

[Jesus told his disciples this parable:] “His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.'” Matthew 25:21

Never too late to change

My first response is not always generosity to the poor. It is not always welcome to  someone I don’t know. Or forgiveness to someone who has hurt me. Or respect to someone who treats me with disdain.

But I always have the option to change my attitude and behavior. I can choose the way of love and kindness instead of the way of self-centeredness and resentment.

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ He said in reply, ‘I will not, ‘ but afterwards changed his mind and went. Matthew 21:28-29

Have mercy

Dirck van Delen, 1604/5-1671 Church Interior with the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18:9-14) Oil on Panel, 1653 Clark Art Institute

Dirck van Delen, 1604/5-1671
Church Interior with the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18:9-14)
Oil on Panel, 1653
Clark Art Institute

Humility allows me to see the truth of my talents, blessings, and strengths as well as my failings, shortcomings, and weaknesses. I will never be perfect, but the all of me—without pretense or justification, shame or pride—is my gift to God. I know God always welcomes me and my humble gift with love, forgiveness, and compassion.

“‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’” Luke 18:13b

Very small matters

Притча о неверном управителе. 2012 г. Холст, масло. 80×70. Художник А.Н. Миронов Parable of the Unjust Steward‎. 2012. Canvas, oil. 80 x 70. Artist A.N. Mironov

Притча о неверном управителе. 2012 г.
Холст, масло. 80×70.
Художник А.Н. Миронов
Parable of the Unjust Steward‎. 2012.
Canvas, oil. 80 x 70.
Artist A.N. Mironov

Today I am practicing trustworthiness in very small matters. I said my morning prayers, fed the cats, made the bed, ate breakfast, cleaned the cat boxes, and hung the laundry on the line. I washed the dishes, emptied the garbage, took a walk, wrote in my journal, and wrote a birthday note to my aunt, who turns eighty-seven this week.

These simple activities—along with others—will add up to be my day. They don’t seem to be worth very much, but this morning I asked God to show me what to do and how to do it. This seems to be what God is showing me: to take responsibility for this tiny corner of the world that is mine—and to do it with love.

“The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones.”
Luke 16:10

Welcome home

James. B. Janknegt 2 Sons Oil on canvas

James. B. Janknegt     2 Sons     Oil on canvas

How good it feels when someone is is keeping an eye out for my arrival and is happy to see me. A warm welcome is one of the best gifts there is.

Sometimes I feel I have wandered far from the love and serenity God offers me. Anxiety, financial worries, and illness can contrive to make me self-centered instead of God-centered. When I become aware of the spiritual starvation my self-absorption has caused, I take comfort in knowing God, the Master of Compassion, has been looking out for me and is here to welcome me home.

“While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.” Luke 15:20b

Let go of greed

Teachings_of_Jesus_26_of_40._parable_of_the_rich_man._Jan_Luyken_etching._Bowyer_BibleI struggle with my obsession to have on hand an over-abundance of cat food to tempt finicky feline appetites, extra rolls of paper towels and unopened boxes of tissues, and a stash of chocolate in case my cookie supply runs out.

Holding on to material goods is a form of greed. It reflects a deeper issue: a lack of faith that my needs—physical and spiritual—are in God’s capable charge.

Today I will remember to turn to the Source of Life when I worry about not having enough. And I will open my hands and heart to find someone with whom I can share my plenty.

Then [Jesus] told them a parable. “There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’” Luke 12:16-17

Focus on Compassion

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890_ Der barmherzige Samariter (nach Delacroix) Saint-Rémy, May 1890 oil on canvas Kröller-Müller Museum

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
Der barmherzige Samariter (nach Delacroix)
Saint-Rémy, May 1890
oil on canvas
Kröller-Müller Museum

The focus of the parable of the Good Samaritan is not on the robbers who beat the traveler and left him half-dead. It is not on the indifferent, fearful priest and Levite.

Jesus puts our attention on the Samaritan who, out of compassion for the injured traveler, stopped and helped, and went out of his way to do what he could to aid the recovery of the wounded person.

Today I will put my attention and energy on showing compassion to those in need. I will keep my focus on  manifesting the mercy of God with my thoughts, words, and actions. I will not make idols of the violence, indifference, and fear that plague our world.

[Jesus replied,] “Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” [The scholar of the law] answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Luke 10:36-37