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Rev. James Martin, S.J.

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Parables Of The Not-So-Social Gospel

Posted: 08/23/2012 4:05 pm

The Lazy Paralytic

1. When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at his home. 2. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them. 3. Then some people came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4. And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay. 5. When Jesus saw this he grew angry, "Why did you wreck my roof? Do you have any idea how much that cost to install? Do you know how many tables and chairs I had to make in my carpentry shop to pay for that roof? The reeds alone cost five talents. I had them carted in from Bethany." 6. The disciples had never seen Jesus so angry about his possessions. He continued, "This house is my life." The disciples fell silent. 7. "It's bad enough that you trash my private property, now you want me to heal you?" said Jesus, "And did you not see the stone walls around this house?" "Yes," said the man's friends. "Are these not the stone walls native to the Land of Galilee? 8. "No," Jesus answered. "This is a gated community. How did you get in?" The man's friends grew silent. 9. Then Jesus turned to the paralytic and said, "Besides, can't you take care of your own health problems? I'm sure that you're family can care for you, or maybe the synagogue." 10. "No, Lord," answered the man's friends. "There is no one. His injuries are too severe. To whom else can we go?" 11. "Well, not me," said Jesus. "What would happen if I provided free health care for everyone? That would mean that people would not only get lazy, but they would take advantage of the system. 12. Besides, look at me: I'm healthy. And you know why? Because I worked hard for my money." The paralyzed man then grew sad and he addressed Jesus. "But I did work, Lord," said the paralytic. "But an accident rendered me paralyzed." "Yes," said the man's friends. "He worked very hard." 13. "Well," said Jesus, "That's just part of life, isn't it?" "Then what am I to do, Lord?" said the paralytic. "I don't know. Why don't you sell your mat?" 14. All in the crowd then grew sad. "Actually, you know what you can do?" said Jesus. "You can reimburse me for my roof. Or I'll sue." And all were amazed. 15. "We have never seen anything like this," said the crowd.

The Very Poorly Prepared Crowd

1. The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve apostles came to Jesus and said, "Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place." 2 But Jesus said to them, "Why not give them something to eat?" They said, 'We have no more than five loaves and two fish -- unless we are to go and buy food for all these people. 3 For there were about five thousand men. And Jesus said to his disciples, "You know what? You're right. Don't waste your time and shekels. It would be positively immoral for you to give away your hard-earned salaries for these people. They knew full well that they were coming to a deserted place, and should have relied on themselves to bring more food. As far as I'm concerned, it's every five thousand men for themselves." 4. The disciples were astonished by this teaching. "But Lord," said Thomas. "The crowd will go hungry." Jesus was amazed at his hard-headedness. "That's not my problem, Thomas. Better that their stomachs are empty than they become overly dependent on someone in authority to provide loaves and fishes for them. Where will it end? Will I have to feed them everyday?" "No, Lord," said Thomas, "Just today. When they are without food. When they have eaten their fill, they will be healthy, and so able to listen to your word and learn from you." Jesus was grieved at Thomas's answer. "It is written: There's no such thing as a free lunch." So taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and took one loaf and one fish for himself, and gave the rest to the twelve, based on their previously agreed-upon per diem. But he gave none to the very poorly prepared crowd because they needed to be taught a lesson. So Jesus ate and was filled. The disciples somewhat less so. What was left over was gathered up and saved for Jesus's next meal, should he grow hungry. The very poorly prepared crowd soon dispersed.

The Rich and Therefore Blessed Young Man

1. As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to him and knelt before him, and asked, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" 2. And Jesus said to him, "What have you done so far?" 3. And he said to Him, "Well I was born into a wealthy family, got into a good school in Galilee because my parents donated a few thousand talents, and have a high-paying job in the Roman treasury managing risk." 4. Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him, for the rich young man was blessed, and said to him, "One thing you lack: A bigger house in a gated community in Tiberias. Buy that and you'll be all set. And make sure you get a stone countertop for the kitchen. Those are really nice." The disciples were amazed. 5. Peter asked him, "Lord, shouldn't he sell all his possessions and give it to the poor?" Jesus grew angry. "Get behind me, Satan! He has earned it!" Peter protested, "Lord," he said, "Did this man not have an unjust advantage? What about those who are not born into wealthy families, or who do not have the benefit of a good education, or live in the poorer areas of Galilee, like Nazareth, your own home town?" 6. "Well," said Jesus, "first of all, that's why I left Nazareth. There were too many poor people always asking for charity. They were as numerous as the stars in the sky, and they annoyed me. Second, once people start spending again, like this rich young man, the Galilean economy will inevitably grow, and eventually it will all trickle down to the poor. Blessed are those who are patient! But giving the money away, especially if he can't write it off, is a big fat waste." The disciples' amazement knew no bounds. "But Lord, what about the Scriptures that tell us to care for the widow, for orphans, for the poor, for the sick, for the refugee? What about all the many passages about justice?" 7. "Those are metaphors," said Jesus. "Don't take everything so literally."

Originally published in America Magazine.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Luke 6:20-21

    <strong>Luke 6:20-21</strong> Then he looked up at his disciples and said: 'Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 'Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled. 'Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

  • Luke 4:16-19

    <strong>Luke 4:16-19</strong> When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour.'

  • Matthew 25:34-36

    <strong>Matthew 25:34-36</strong> Then the king will say to those at his right hand, "Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me."

  • Mark 10:21-22

    <strong>Mark 10:21-22</strong> Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, "You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

  • Mark 12:41-44

    <strong>Mark 12:41-44</strong> He sat down opposite the treasury, and watched the crowd putting money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42 A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which are worth a penny. 43 Then he called his disciples and said to them, "Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the treasury. 44 For all of them have contributed out of their abundance; but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on."

  • Luke 14:12-14

    <strong>Luke 14:12-14</strong> He said also to the one who had invited him, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

  • Luke 16:19-25

    <strong>Luke 16:19-25</strong> "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. He called out, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.' But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony.

  • Luke 11:39-42

    <strong>Luke 11:39-42</strong> Then the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you. "But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and herbs of all kinds, and neglect justice and the love of God

  • Luke 12:16-21

    <strong>Luke 12:16-21</strong> Then he told them a parable: "The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, 'What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God."

 
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