Among the words of Jesus, I was first fascinated by His surprising and enigmatic counter-questions, which generated real clashes among his tempters. In the face of the questions that were supposed to leave Him speechless, He always had a more comprehensive vision, from the perspective of which the traps were reduced to ridiculous, absurd obstacles.
I then came to enjoy the parables of Jesus because they were never moralising speeches, but living stories, “subversive” for his opponents, but liberating or saving for the honest and the uneducated, the ignorant and the oppressed. Indeed, the many surprises, misguided expectations, and intriguing endings that are present in Jesus’s parables, shocked and angered on the one hand, but on the other they edified, restored people’s trust in God, and turned their eyes to the Great Salvation, which was incarnate before their eyes.
In the face of a motley world, in which the essential, natural fibre is intertwined with resistance towards the moral imperatives, Jesus chose the right path. He knew the power of the messages hidden between words and embodied in vivid images. He knew that the story brought presence itself, not the evidence or arguments of presence.
He knew that the details, gathered from everyday life or the rich traditional sources of the community, could penetrate directly into the heart, to persuade and silence the counter-arguments that the moralising Pharisaic sermons could never stop. He relied on the fact that stories are easier to present and harder to forget, easier to understand and harder to exhaust.
Today, moral statements are not only easier to forget but also much more disavowed. Moral imperatives are generally rejected by our postmodern contemporaries, but in the story, they are no longer “shouted” at the reader, but intertwined with their life, implicitly and obediently. They come with the plot, with the characters, and they can’t be dissociated. And the “bones and flesh” of the story that covers them make them much harder to disregard. They stay and they influence.
Unfortunately, the two millennia of Christianity have taken away from Jesus’s parables the element of surprise and their revealing novelty. Today, parables are classical stories.
The effort to revive their transformative power by a simple explanation makes good intentions degenerate into a mere moralising exposition. That is why, at ST.Network, we have tried to reconstruct, at least in part, the feelings of Jesus’s audience from 2,000 years ago with the help of modern and real parables that retain in their essence the surprises and the edifying amazement from the parables of Jesus.
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The stories, which are always in motion, show that experience outshines speech, making prejudices remain even more inert. This is how we end this laborious search for the best thought, for the different world that Jesus came to confess about, hoping that what we write will succeed in reviving, for each reader, some of the revelatory surprises of the Master.