Polemical Parables – The Kingdom of God is not What We Expect

The Kingdom of God, says the Jew, will come suddenly and sensationally with the visible triumph of God’s people:  no, says the parable of the mustard seed, it will grow from small beginnings, spread gradually through the nations:  no, says the parable of the leaven, it will work silently and secretly, before the world is aware that it is at work.  In the kingdom there will be nothing evil or unclean:  no, say the parables, there will be tares among the wheat, useless dog-fish caught in the net.  Solomon’s Temple and Levi’s priesthood will be at the centre of a regenerate world:  no, says the parable of the good Samaritan, the priest and the Levite have lost their chance, they passed by on the other side.  But at least the kingdom will be for the Jews?  No, say the parables, the invited guests have excused themselves and the table has to be filled with strangers brought in from the highways and hedges; the wicked husbandmen have defrauded their employer and killed his servants, and the vineyard will be given to others.  But even if the gentiles are admitted, surely it will be the chosen people, fortified by so many promises, tested by so many tribulations, that will be the chief inheritors?  No, say the parables, those who come to work at the eleventh hour will receive the same reward as those who bore the burden of the day and the heat; indeed, there will be more rejoicing in heaven over the prodigal son who has found his way back to God than over the elder brother who never departed from his service.  But, anyhow, when once the kingdom is established, the Jews will flock into it?  No, says the parable of Dives and Lazarus; they have Moses and the Prophets to guide them; they will be given no second chance of repentance.  We shall find, I think, that the meaning of the parables becomes far clearer if we keep that background of polemic in view.

Ronald Knox, “Parable”

Divine vs. Human Wisdom

Years of working with Scripture has taught me that the most explosive divine concepts (for example, continual prayer, complete detachment, a sparing-sharing lifestyle) while they at first seem impossible are seen upon further study to be absolutely correct. It is quite otherwise with human wisdom. At first it has the appearance of truth, but upon further testing and experience it is found to be lacking in only too many cases.

Thomas Dubay S.M.


“You just heard in the Gospel that one must not love oneself so much as to avoid getting involved in the risks of life…Whoever out of love for Christ gives themselves to the service of others will live, like the grain of wheat that dies-but only apparently. If it did not die, it would remain alone. Only in undoing itself does it produce the harvest.”

Oscar Romero

thou shalt not kill

“I want to make a special appeal to soldiers, national guardsmen and policemen: each of you is one of us. The peasants you kill are your own brothers and sisters. When you hear a man telling you to kill, remember God’s words, ‘thou shalt not kill.’ No soldier is obliged to obey a law contrary to the law of God. In the name of God, in the name of our tormented people, I beseech you, I implore you; in the name of God I command you to stop the repression.”

Oscar Romero


“To try to preach without referring to the history one preaches in is not to preach the gospel. Many would like a preaching so spiritualistic that it leaves sinners unbothered and does not term idolaters those who kneel before money and power. A preaching that says nothing of the sinful environment in which the gospel is reflected upon is not the gospel.”

Oscar Romero

God’s Word

“I study the Word of God to be read on Sunday. I look around me, at my people. I use this Word to shed light on my surroundings…Naturally, the idols and idolatries of the earth are irritated by this Word, and they would like very much to remove it, to silence it, to kill it. Let happen what God wills, but God’s Word, as St. Paul said, is not tied down.”

Oscar Romero


Theology is the name we give to the efforts of our minds and hearts to catch up with the work of the Living God in the world. Or theology is the name we give to the effort of our minds and hearts to grasp the world conjured by God and construed by Scripture. Or theology is our successfully imagining the world imagined by Scripture, which reveals the world imagined by God.

    • Luke Timothy Johnson

Messy Spirituality

You and I are incomplete. I’m unfinished. I’m unfixed. And the reality is that’s where God meets me is in the mess of my life, in the unfixedness, in the brokenness. I thought he did the opposite, he got rid of all that stuff. But if you read the Bible, if you look at it at all, constantly he was showing up in people’s lives at the worst possible time of their life.

– Mike Yaconelli