An Abundance of Biblical Metaphor
A Reflection on Jeremiah 13: 1-11 and Matthew 13: 31-35
Sermon by Fr. Eric Hollas, OSB
Delivered at Saint John’s Abbey
28 July 2014
In today’s readings we have an overabundance of imagery that describes the kingdom of heaven. Both Jeremiah and Jesus make use of parables to teach a lesson, but the result is a mix of metaphors that has to leave a biblical literalist confused. The kingdom of heaven cannot be like a mustard seed, and be like yeast at the same time. Nor can our relationship with God also be like a loin-cloth. It’s all too much, because such images are mutually exclusive, at least if you are a literalist.
But Jesus and Jeremiah deliberately summon for our meditation a range of imagery, just to make a point. For believers there can be no one-size-fits-all approach to God, because each of us is at a different place along the spiritual journey to God. And so it may be useful to consider which parable best describes my own spiritual journey. Am I the person in the ditch, awaiting the help of some good Samaritan? Am I the mustard seed who is just starting to flourish? Am I the salt that’s lost its flavor? All those images are worthy of our consideration, because Jesus reaches out to us, no matter what our parable might be.
[The image at right is Christ Crucified, wood, ca. 1200. From the Auvergne region of France, now housed in the Cluny Museum in Paris.