Life Of Christ:
The Blessed Virgin Mary
Birth Of Jesus
Three Wise Men From The East Adore The Infant Saviour
Presentation Of Jesus In The Temple
Flight Into Egypt
Jesus, At Twelve Years, Visits The Temple
Baptism Of Jesus
Jesus Calls The Twelve Apostles
Parables Of Jesus
Miracles Of Jesus
Read More Articles About: Life Of Christ
Parables Of Jesus
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
OUR blessed Saviour chose to convey His instructions chiefly in parables and figures, according to the usage and style of Eastern countries. Amongst other parables, He proposed the following: Parable of the Sower.
"Behold the sower went forth to sow. And whilst he soweth, some fell by the wayside, and the birds of the air came and ate them up. And other some fell upon stony ground, where they had not much earth : and they sprang up immediately, because they had no deepness of earth. And when the sun was up, they were scorched : and because they had not root, they withered away. And others fell among thorns: and the thorns grew up and choked them. And others fell upon good ground: and they brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, and some thirtyfold. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear." (Matt. xiii. 3-9.)
In the explanation of the parable, which He gave afterward to His apostles in private, our blessed Saviour says that the seed is the word of God, and that they by the wayside are the hearers who forget the word almost as soon as they have heard it. For the devil comes immediately, and either by his own wicked suggestions or by his agents, as so many fowls of the air, takes away the seed of salvation from their hearts, lest it should there quicken their faith and produce fruits of eternal life. In the second part of the parable the seed is said to fall upon a rock, where, meeting with no depth of soil, it is burned up by the sun almost as soon as it begins to spring. And these are they, says Christ, who at first seem pleased with the word of God, but having no great fund of goodness, forget it in time of trial, and recoil at the approach of temptation. Such persons are very apt to deceive themselves, and their illusion is this : the pleasure which they seem to find in receiving the word of God makes them fancy that they want nothing more to produce the fruit of godliness in their souls; little thinking that a heart which is not softened by compunction, and improved by works of piety, is incapable of producing any lasting good. The third part of the parble is that in which the seed is said to have fallen among thorns: the thorns grew up and choked it. Such is the misfortune of those, says Our Lord, whose thoughts are taken up with the concerns of this world. They in-deed hear the word of God; but the cares of life, their restless desires, and worldly pursuits stifle the growth of virtue in their souls and prevent its fruit. On a heart thus entangled and perplexed the sacred word of God, whether written or delivered by His ministers, has but little or no effect. The fourth and last part of the par-able marks the different products of that part of the seed which fell upon good ground. In some the increase was a hundred grains for one; in some it was sixty; in others only thirty. Such are the different degrees of goodness which the word of God produces in the hearts of the faithful, according to the disposition with which it is received.
"And His disciples came and said to Him: Why speakest Thou to them in parables? Who answered and said to them: Because to you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven: but to then it is not given." (Matt. xiii. to, 10, 11.)
The Good Samaritan.
"And behold a certain lawyer stood up, tempting Him and saying: Master, what must I do to possess eternal life? But He said to him: What is written in the law? how readest thou? He answering, said: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and' with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbor as thyself. And He said to him: Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said to Jesus: And who is my neighbor? And Jesus answering, said: A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, who also stripped him : and having wounded him went away leaving him half dead. And it chanced that a certain priest went down the same way: and seeing him, passed by. In like manner also a Levite, when he was near the place and saw him, passed by. But a certain Samaritan being on his journey,' came near him: and seeing him was moved with compassion. And going up to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine : and setting him upon his own beast brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two pence and gave to the host, and said : Take care of him : and whatsoever thou shalt spend over and above, I at my return will repay thee. Which of these three in thy opinion was neighbor to him that fell among the robbers? But he said: He that showed mercy to him. And Jesus said to him : Go, and do thou likewise." (Luke x.25-37.)
From this parable Christ intends us to learn that true charity excludes no man in distress. No matter what his country may be, or what his profession in life, he is created according to the image of God, he is redeemed by the blood of Christ, and his present necessity claims a right to our assistance, if we are able to give it. The opportunity of doing good is never to be neglected; a work of mercy well timed is doubly acceptable both to God and man.
The Folly of Riches.
" And He said to them : Take heed and beware of all covetousness: for a man's life does not consist in the abundance of things which he possesseth. And He spoke a similitude to them, saying: The land of a certain rich man brought forth plenty of fruits. And he thought within himself : What shall I do, because I have no room to bestow my fruits? And he said: This will I do. I will pull down my barns, and will build greater: and into them will I gather all things that are grown to me, and my goods. And I will say to my soul: Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years: take thy rest, eat, drink, make good cheer. But God said to him Thou fool, this night do they require thy soul of thee: and whose shall those things be which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." (Luke xii. 15-21.)
In this parable Our Saviour shows what a folly it is to place our happiness in the enjoyment of worldly wealth. Riches, that may be lost at any hour, and must be parted with in death, cannot make a Christian happy; they may flatter his senses for a while, but they cannot satiate the cravings of an immortal soul. The rich man is styled a fool by our blessed Saviour, not because he had acquired his riches by undue methods, but because he flattered himself with the thought of enjoying them for many years, little thinking that death was to snatch him from them that very night. If Christians did but oftener reflect upon the moment which sooner or later must separate them from all their worldly connections, they would learn to turn their thoughts toward Heaven, and to fix their desires on those, eternal riches which nothing can take away.
The Prodigal Son.
" A certain man had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father: Father, give me the portion of substance that falleth to me. And he divided unto them bis substance. And not many days after, the younger son gathering all together, went abroad into a far country, and there wasted his substance living riotously. And after he had spent all, there came a mighty famine in that country, and he began to be in want. And he went and cleaved to one of the citizens of that country. And he sent him into his farm to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks the swine did eat; and no man gave unto him. And returning to himself, he said: How many hired servants in my father's house abound with bread, and I perish with hunger? I will arise and will go to my father, and say to him: Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before thee: I am not worthy to be called thy son : make me as one of thy hired servants. And rising up he came to his father. And when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and running to him fell upon his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him: Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before thee, I am not now worthy to be called thy son. And the father said to his servants: Bring forth quickly the first robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat and make merry: because this my son was dead, and is come to life again; was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. Now his elder son was in the field, and when he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing; and he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. And he said to him : Thy brother is come, and thy father has killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe. And he was angry and would not go in. His father therefore coming out, began to entreat him. And he answering, said to his father: Behold for so many years do I serve thee, and I have never transgressed thy commandment, and yet thou hast never given me a kid to make merry with my friends. But as soon as this thy son is come, who hath devoured his substance with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. But he said to him: Son, thou art always with me, and all I have is thine : but it was fit that we should make merry and be glad, for this thy brother was dead, and is come to life again: he was lost, and is found." (Luke XV. 11-32.)
The holy Fathers say that this parable is so fully expressive of the lesson it is meant to convey that nothing more can be added to it. The wretchedness that follows an abandoned sinner, and the satisfaction that accompanies a true penitent, are fully displayed. The unfortunate young man no sooner became sensible of the miserable state he was in than he resolved to quit it. He repented and returned to his father with a firm purpose never to stray from him any more. If we repent, like the prodigal son, for having left our Father's house, we shall, like him, be restored to our former state of grace and friendship with God.
The Rich Glutton.
"There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and feasted sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, who lay at his gate, full of sores, desiring to be filled with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table, and no one did give him : moreover the dogs came and licked his sores: And it came to pass that the beggar died and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. And the rich man also died: and he was buried in hell. And lifting up his eyes, when he was in torments, he saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom : and he cried and said : Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water to cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame. And Abraham said to him: Son, remember that thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime, and like-wise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented; and besides all this, between us and you there is fixed a great chaos : so that they who would pass from hence to you, cannot, nor from thence come hither. And he said: Then, father, I beseech thee, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house; for I have five brethren, that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torments. And Abraham said to him: They have Moses and the prophets: let them hear them. But he said: No, Father Abraham; but if one went to them from the dead, they will do penance. And he said to him : If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe if one rise again from the dead." (Luke xvi. 19-31.)
In this parable Our Saviour points out the two opposite conditions to which a different use of God's creatures leads the different classes of mankind. By a mistaken world, afflictions are styled the evils of life, though, to the humble Christian, they pave the way toward endless happiness; while riches are esteemed a blessing, though so dangerously connected with real misery. The sufferings of Lazarus were short; the joy that succeeded was eternal. The momentary pleasures of the rich man were but the prelude to everlasting torments. After death he found as little pity from Abraham as Lazarus in life had found from him. The time of mercy was then no more. Happy are the suffering poor if they are only careful to use the advantages which their humble station gives them for their improvement in virtue. Unhappy are the rich if they make not a Christian use of what they have received. To comfort the distressed, and to help the needy, is the privilege of being rich; and happy they who so use their wealth. The way to draw upon them-selves the compassion of their heavenly Father is to show compassion to their poor brethren.
The Pharisee and the Publican.
"Two men went up into the temple to pray : the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee standing prayed thus with himself : O God, I give thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers: as also is this publican. I fast twice in a week: I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican standing afar off would not so much as lift his eyes toward heaven; but struck his breast saying: O God, be merciful to me, a sinner. I say to you this man went down into his house justified rather than the other, because every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled: and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." (Luke xviii. 10-14.)
The lesson which Jesus inculcates by this parable is: Humility is the foundation of Christian piety. Without humility every other virtue is mere show, a glittering appearance of something good, without the reality. A prayer dictated by pride became a sin in the Pharisee; prayer united with an humble contrition of heart justified the publican.
The Laborers in the Vineyard.
"The kingdom of heaven is like to an householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard. And having agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And going out about the third hour, he saw others standing in the market-place idle. And he said to them: Go you also into my vineyard, and I will give you what shall be just. And they went their way. And again he went out about the sixth and the ninth hour: and did in like manner. But about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing, and he saith to them: Why stand you here all day idle? They say to him: Because no one hath hired us. He saith to them : Go you also into my vineyard. And when evening was come, the lord of the vineyard saith to his steward: Call the laborers and pay them their hire, beginning from the last even to the first. When therefore they were come that came about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
But when the first also came, they thought that they should receive more: and they also received every man a penny. And receiving it they murmured against the master of the house, saying: These last have worked but one hour, and thou hast made them equal to us, that have borne the burden of the day and the heat. But he answering saith to one of them: Friend, I do thee no wrong; didst thou not agree with me for a penny? Take what is thine, and go thy way: I will also give to this last even as to thee. Or, is it not lawful for me to do what I will? Is thy eye evil, because I am good? So shall the last be first and the first last; for many are called, but few chosen." (Matt. xx. 1-16.)
From this parable the holy Fathers take occasion to exhort all Christians to shun idleness as displeasing to God, and to labor diligently in the affair of salvation. Men are born and called to labor in the service of God, each one according to his state and vocation. Let each one be diligent in performing the part of the task which is allotted him, and he will receive his due recompense; for God will give to every one according to his works. However unequally the goods of fortune may seem to be divided here, we are not to murmur against the dispositions of Providence; it is not for this world we have been created, nor is it in this world that we are to expect our reward. The reward is in the next life, and is given only when merited in this.