Today’s cascade of Parables is a perfect example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. They point to the kingdom of course but each gives a quite different slant.
In the first, the kingdom is a treasure hidden.
In the second, the kingdom is the merchant searching.
In the third, it is a dragnet cast.
Three distinct and quite different aspects of the kingdom are shown.
In the first, it is something which is stumbled upon but when discovered, it transforms the person who finds it by chance. He was not searching for it – it comes ‘out of the blue’, unexpectedly, unasked for, undeserved.
In the second, it is not the treasure stumbled upon but the searcher who HAS been striving to find it.
In the third, it is something which is almost inescapable. A dragnet, by virtue of its name, drags in all that lies in its path. To be sorted and chosen.
So we have 3 aspects of the kingdom.
It can be stumbled upon. An encounter without any initial effort on the part of the searcher. It is therefore something that awaits discovery and the effort on the part of the discoverer is simply to recognize its worth and respond to it.
It may be searched for and when found and recognized it demands the same response – that of total embrace.
And yet it is also something which is inevitable – like the dragnet – which overrides the individual’s intentions or plans. The fish has no choice, the dragnet decides.
Three images of the kingdom. Three responses, three invitations or, perhaps, three possibilities. The kingdom is thus an unexpected gift, a yearning which drives the seeker to keep searching, an overpowering and inescapable force.
Can these three images be reconciled – well if you want a simple, black and white, irrefutable definition, then no but if you want to go deeper into the Mystery of God then yes.
Because the kingdom is the gift, undeserved and unearned of God’s love for us. Because the kingdom is the inbuilt yearning for wholeness, fulfilment, purpose which drives us on. Augustine’s, ‘Our hearts are restless till they rest in you’.
Because the kingdom is God’s desire to have us with Him; to draw us, everyone into that relationship which is the kingdom. All are given that opportunity.
The challenge is for us to trust in the judgement, the love of God. When the dragnet drags all from the sea, it is not for the ‘things dragged’ to decide whether they are worth keeping or not. It is the one who does the dragging.
And so to get an idea of what God’s judgement might be let’s look into the storeroom and draw from it both new and old.
From the New – ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!’
From the Old – ‘And God saw what He had made and indeed, it was very good!’
I think we can safely leave the judgment to Him and rejoice that we are invited into this kingdom relationship which defies easy and simplistic ‘definition’.
Paul speaks of; ‘the ones He chose specially long ago’ How long ago, we cannot know, but things we can know ? God’s choice is for those who are not searching but stumble into the relationship, God’s choice is for those who actively yearn and seek, God’s choice is hardly a choice at all as He draws all to him with an inevitability like a dragnet in the sea. So many different ways to find ourselves in the same place, loved, welcomed, invited