Tag Archives: parables

The Parable-Driven Life: The Parable of the Shining Pearl (Matthew 13:46-47)

MERCHANDIZING THE GREAT PRICE OF CHRIST’S TWO NATURES

It’s been well over four years since we have continued our Parable-Driven Life series, but like all good things, I want to bring this series back from time to time. I have been inspired by reading excerpts of Clement’s take on the parables. I say in some cases they are brief glimpses, because we don’t have some of the full texts. They are citations from lost works. Unlike many commentaries today, Clement of Alexandria postulated allegorical interpretations of Gospel texts that were Christ-centered. I will quote what we have of his comments on The Parable of the Pearl [of Great Price] found in Matthew 13: 46-47, and then add some commentary on my own.

From Niceta’s Catena on Matthew:

“A pearl, and that pellucid and of purest ray, is Jesus, whom of the lightning flash of Divinity the Virgin bore. For as the pearl, produced in the flesh and the oyster-shell and moisture, appears to be a body moist and transparent, full of light and spirit; so also God the Word, incarnate, is intellectual light, sending his rays, through a body luminous and moist.”

For Clement, Jesus the Messiah is the Picture Perfect Image of YHWH. In The Educator (Pedagogue, Book II, Chapter XIII), Clement spends an excessive amount of time discussing beauty, fashion and the like, but here again he repeats his rendering of The Parable Of The Pearl Of Great Price:

“And the wretched creatures are not ashamed at having bestowed the greatest pains about this little oyster, when they might adorn themselves with the sacred jewel, the Word of God, whom the Scriptures has somewhere called a pearl, the pure and pellucid Jesus, the eye that watches in the flesh,–the transparent Word, by whom the flesh, regenerated by water, becomes precious. For that oyster that is in the water covers the flesh all around, and out of it is produced the pearl.

Now, if I may move on to further excursis, if Christ is the Reign of God, (the pearl), then the merchant who is searching for him must be the Elect, the chosen body of Christ that continues to live lives of repentance, seeking out to involves itself in the life of the Triune God. The illuminous Revelation that is Christ reveals God’s true nature perfectly in the person of Divine Wisdom Enfleshed. The Elect are those persons who are baptized first by water, as a sign of repentance and their accountability to the Body. The merchant is the community of believers who know and realize the Cost of Discipleship [Matthew  13:47 & 19:21 on the Jesus and the Rich Young Man].

What may be a little more interesting is that Clement’s interpretation of this Parable read a lot like early Church Baptismal formulas, and the Nicene Creed (in bold)

A pearl, and that pellucid and of purest ray, is Jesus  |

 JesusChrist, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, light from light,

AND

whom of the lightning flash of Divinity the Virgin bore. For as the pearl, produced in the flesh and the oyster-shell and moisture, appears to be a body moist and transparent, full of light and spirit; so also God the Word, incarnate, is intellectual light, sending his rays, through a body luminous and moist. |

 

he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and became truly human. 

And

the transparent Word, by whom the flesh, regenerated by water, becomes precious. For that oyster that is in the water covers the flesh all around, and out of it is produced the pearl. |

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The theology of the Church, then, can never really be separated from its worship praxis.  The neat wall separation that we have created between orthodoxy (right belief) and orthopraxis  (right practice) should come tumbling down like the walls of Jericho.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like:

By Rod:

The Parable-Driven Life: The Parable of the Minas (Luke 19:11-28)

The Parable-Driven Life: The Parable(s) the Fig Tree(s) (Judges 9:10-11 and Luke 13:1-9)

 By Chad:

The Parable-Driven Life: The Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:4-18) 

The Parable-Driven-Life: Lazarus and The wealthy C.E.O. (Luke 16:19-31)

The New Apartheids: Race, Gender, and Violence #RenishaMcBride #Justice4Renisha

SoB apartheid

“No woman should ever have to suffer at the hands of man.”- Canary, Arrow

I figured it was somewhat appropriate that I start a conversation about the Renisha McBride incident by talking about some of things going on this season of Arrow, just as I did with the 1 year anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s murder: Heroes Wear Hoodies:Trayvon Martin, Vigilantism, and CW’s Arrow. Travel back with me, towards the conclusion of season 1, The Undertaking. Malcolm Merlyn,

John Barrowman as The Dark Archer/Malcolm Merlyn

Image from TV Guide

the primary antagonist for the season has a plot that was revealed: to destroy the economically down-trodden, racially diverse part of Starling City, The Glades. The Glades is the Other side of town, where all the bad things happen, and Merlyn fell victim with the loss of his wife. His revenge leads to chaos and the loss of over 500 lives. And this season 2, whereas no one really cared for the Glades in S1, now politicians and business people are working like crazy to “bring the Glades back.” In the back of my mind, all I could think about was how racist Merlyn’s plan was, and how disproportionately the poor would be devastated compared to the wealthier parts of the city.

If there is one thing I love about Arrow, it has to be its realism, and unfortunately, there are a number of communities out there just like the Glades being destroyed by the policies of aldermen and corporations. Studies are showing for examples that racism costs the United States about $12 billion a year. The United Nations reported recently that racist policies are still leading to oppressed populations world-wide living in poverty. Anti-black racism is behind the recent court decision in the Dominican Republic to deny black Haitians citizenship, people who have lived in DR for generations. As patriot Edward Snowden has helped us to realize, racist policies drive neo-liberal neo-colonial empire, and vice versa.

Renisha McBride was only 19 years old when she went looking for a Good Samaritan in the suburbs of Dearborn Heights. What she received however was a shotgun bullet to the face by one Ted Wafer. Wafer’s lawyer has told observers not to jump to conclusions, to not use prejudice when looking at this case. See, that’s the funny thing about white supremacy as a system of death. It’s immensely hypocritical: enraged concerned citizens who just happen to be Black aren’t supposed to use bias, but his client was allowed to use prejudice when he decided to take a life. Aside from that, Wafer’s name was not given out to the media until today, in order to protect him. Because black people are armed and dangerous, they are the criminals that seek vengeance (but that’s not what history tells us, but white supremacy doesn’t give a damn about facts, though).

Economic violence and racial violence are interrelated. If blacks are held captive in cycles of poverty, they are viewed as both moral deviants and the constant dependents. Their dependency becomes something of a joke, and asking for help while black become a matter of life or death. “But since it has yet again become clear that black people are deemed unworthy to be helped, I am left to wonder how in the world we will be able to help ourselves?”- Brittney Cooper, PhD. The Neo-Apartheid/Jane & Jim Crow 2.0 exist on white supremacist foundations that darker skinned people are inherently criminal, and those with white skin are morally superior from birth.

The New Apartheids still mean that when People of Color go looking for a Good Samaritan, they will only find murderous thieves.

I can’t bring myself to write anymore for now, so I leave you with this video by Dream Hampton:

Link to Dream Hampton’s youtube video/documentary

“Who then is my neighbor?”

The Parable-Driven-Life: Lazarus and The wealthy C.E.O.

A Targum (a retelling of a known story, adding in contemporary detail)

“There was once a wealthy C.E.O. who always dressed in tailored suits, wore a rolex, often took his private jet to work, and dined at the finest restaurants every night.

Not one block away from his high-rise office was the place where a poor man named Lazarus used to live. His home had been in foreclosure for months, due to predatory loans, his interest rate rising although national rates were falling, and hasty and illegal foreclosure practices. His crisis began in earnest when the wealthy C.E.O. outsourced his job, even though it wasn’t union, to a factory in China, whose workers were paid less than a living wage, worked for brutal hours, and where the C.E.O. did not have to worry about health, safety, or age restrictions for workers.

Lazarus would come by the office of the wealthy C.E.O. most every day in order to perhaps just get a chance to talk to the C.E.O. face to face and make him see what what was happening to people. But the C.E.O. always saw him first, and told his driver to park around back, so he didn’t have to engage “those people.”

It happened soon enough that Lazarus passed away. A special messenger from God came and took him, body and soul to a nice, comfy home that he could enjoy.

About this time, the Wealthy C.E.O. also passed away quite unexpectedly. Buried in the ground near one of his factories, the chemicals from factory runoff eroded his coffin and ate away at his body. Puzzled as to why he was not in heaven, he was given sight beyond sight and saw the poor Lazarus in his comfortable skyward home.

He yelled out to the messenger, ‘Hey! Come here for a second. I can’t help notice that that poor guy up there isn’t doing anything. I remember him, he was always lazy, looking for a handout. Well, tell him to get off of his butt and give me some water so I can wash this toxic crap off of me. Its starting to sting.’

But the messenger said, ‘Sir, don’t you remember all the good things you had in your life? Well, when that poor man (Lazarus is his name, by the way) was alive, contrary to your opinion, he did work hard, and the system you built kept him down. But now it is time for things to be put right. He is comforted, and since you got your comfort already, we’ll leave you to your own devices now.

Besides, while you were alive, you made sure to make a large gap between him and you, and only addressed him when you needed him. So that you can’t use him at your beck and call and then throw him away again, there is now a large gap between you and him in reverse. Sorry about that.’

Then the C.E.O. said, ‘Well, could you at least make poor-boy get up and talk to my fellow C.E.O.s, so that they can fix this problem before it is too late?”

The messenger replied, ‘Most of them go to church. They already know better. Its not like the founder of your religion was ambiguous about this stuff.’

The C.E.O. said, ‘No, you’re right; but if someone were to come back from the dead and tell them, they would listen!’

The messenger, motioning with his hands just enough so that the C.E.O. could see scars on both sides of his wrists, said, ‘Trust me. Even if someone came back from the dead, they wouldn’t do a damn thing differently.’”