Tag 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

Worthy

Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard
11th c.
Byzantine gospel. Paris, National Library

God surrounds, fills, and blesses each human person with the same abundant love, compassion, and comfort. We don’t have to prove our worth to God. Whenever we show up for God, God is already there with a warm welcome.

Today I will make God’s boundless, unbiased love apparent by treating everyone I encounter with respect and kindness.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

 

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

Like the rich man?

Gustave Doré, 1832-1883 The parable of the rich man and Lazarus, from the Gospel of Luke 1891

Gustave Doré (1832-1883)
The parable of the rich man and Lazarus, from the Gospel of Luke
Print, 1891

How am I different from the rich man? Do I notice the people around me? Am I attuned to others’ suffering? Do I make an effort to assuage the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual distress of those in need? Am I tormented by my lack of compassion and indifference towards refugees, drug addicts, alcoholics, the unemployed, and victims of human trafficking?

Today I will pay attention to the people I encounter and give help wherever—and as generously as—possible.

[Jesus said to the Pharisees:] “Abraham replied, ‘My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime
while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.'” Luke16:25

 

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

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

 

Today’s choice

Düsseldorf, Germany. Catholic church St. Lambertus, main portal with bronze door created by Ewald Mataré. Detail: Return of the prodigal son. Photo by Beckstet, 2010

Düsseldorf, Germany. Catholic church St. Lambertus, main portal with bronze door created by Ewald Mataré. Detail: Return of the prodigal son.
Photo by Beckstet, 2010

I may identify with either the prodigal son or his resentful older brother, but in this parable Jesus is calling me to be like the compassionate father.

How ready am I to forgive? To let go of resentment? To welcome the lost? To be a peacemaker? To show compassion to those who are poor, ill, or different from me in culture, ways of thinking, acting, being?

Today I will choose compassion over indifference and acceptance over judgment.

While [the younger son] was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. Luke 15:20b