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Other than the Sermon on the Mount, which contains the Beatitudes, Jesus taught chiefly through parables. In doing this he revealed the profoundly human fascination with the power of the story. We all like a good story, don’t we? They capture not just our imagination but also our hearts.
A man sewing seeds in front of a tree while birds circle around overhead.

Storytelling and the telling of parables was common in the ancient world. However, Jesus’ parables are unlike any others the world has ever known – they are unique. Scholars (among them many atheists), specialists in linguistics and ancient languages, testify that his parables reveal a mind the like of which the world had not seen before and never will again. Of course, faith teaches us that this is because the parables of Jesus are divine. When we read or study them, we are encountering the mind of God. The parable of the growing seed captures the generous and lavish work of God’s grace in our lives because God (who is the Sower of the seed) spreads his grace lavishly and generously on our world and into our lives.

One of the greatest revolutions that still needs to occur in the Church is a paradigm shift in our thinking about baptismal grace. We need to cultivate a radical theology of baptism, for the grace we received at baptism is always at work in us, night and day, whether we are asleep or awake. Baptism is the gateway through which we all have passed into the joys of the Christian life, and God’s call and grace are irrevocable. We can often think that we are a long way from the baptismal grace we received but this is not so, for wherever sin abounds, God’s grace super abounds. The waters of baptism are more powerful than the mighty waves of the ocean.

Baptism is the precious pearl the treasure in the field, the seed sowed by the Sower – baptism sheds light on all the parables. Many, if not most of us, were baptised as babies, and as a result this incredible, amazing, life-changing event isn’t even in our memories: this is why we need to rediscover it, because the seed of baptismal grace is the key to living the Christian life.

‘The diver brings us pearls out of the sea. Be baptised and bring up from the water the purity that is hidden there, the pearl that is set like a jewel in the crown of the Godhead’ (St. Ephraem the Syrian).

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