This Sunday’s Gospel, for the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B (June 14, 2015) is about the Parable of the Mustard Seed and includes the line, “He did not say anything to them without using a parable.” (Mark 4:34)
Jesus’ use of stories/parables was not just some quaint medium of a simpler time. Even today, experts tell us that if we want to convey a message and have it spread, we should put it into the context of a story. Storytelling is an important skill for a catechist to utilize.
Not too long ago, I came across an excellent article, written by Dr. Matthew Halbach, about the power of parables. Halbach explains that, while doctrine is constructive,
parables tend to be deconstructive; that is, as God’s word, they break in on our lives and disrupt our most basic beliefs about ourselves and others, especially God. Parables force the hearer to take a hard look at him or herself. They often pack a punch that is comparable to Dr. Phil’s line, “Now how does that make you feel?” or that wonderful line from Good Will Hunting, “How do you like those apples?” Thus, while doctrine is primarily an appeal to the intellect, parable is more of an appeal to the person’s heart.
Speaking of parables, I will be delivering the last presentation at this year’s Summer Scripture Seminar at the University of St. Mary of the Lake at Mundelein Seminary (IL). After four days of presentations from Scripture scholars about the parables, my job will be to talk about the “Parables in Light of Evangelization.” Pray that I will be inspired; that’s a new topic for me!