The School of Faith (1)

The School of Faith:

Good news of abundant life will spread, because those who are open to the Spirit are also open to change, and as they are transformed, they can achieve great things. Good soil, fruitfulness, discipleship and mission.

Those who do follow have to endure hardship & shortage, enmity without and betrayal within, lack of understanding, hunger and fear.

 

But they will be sustained by signs. Burning bush, Passover, Red Sea deliverance, manna, quails, water from rock, commandments, ark/tabernacle, land of milk and honey as symbols of abundance.

They will have access to the power of the mustard seed.

And those who endure to the end will be saved.

[What happens to those who are not willing to follow? Lost, damned, destroyed.]

 

Those who “do the will of God” are Jesus’ true family 3.31-35. They are around Jesus because they are learning from him how to follow the Way.

 

“Those around him along with the twelve” have been given the “secret of the kingdom” which enables them to understand the parables 4.10-11. If they understand the parable of the sower, then they will understand them all 4.13.

 

Jesus’ teaching can appear simple, but as soon as we begin to apply it, we discover that it is not simple at all. On the contrary, the process of applying it reveals many mysteries and paradoxes which Jesus addressed in his parables. These were designed to be memorable rather than transparent. The intention was that the parables would be remembered even if they were not immediately understood. If they were remembered, they could become food for thought later, in moments of quiet or questioning. And it was this process of reflection which would reveal the truth within them, and allow the hearer to draw comfort from it. And learn.

 

Jesus was not only concerned with having an immediate impact on his hearers. (seeds for a future harvest, too) He knew that a lot of what we hear, we forget. Or it enters the composting process of the mind and is laid down in layers of impressions which tend to reinforce the way we already think. Unless an experience or event has forced us out of the rut and startled us into a new way of thinking. In which case, we might be open to looking at our situation in a new way. But even then, the potential of Jesus’ teaching might not be apparent to us at once. Or we might be attracted to it, but doubt whether we can stay the course.

This was why the teaching he offered the crowd was only the starting point of his teaching method. It offered a way in. It was an invitation to take a second look, venture out, go a bit further. The real work was done in the school of faith, in long conversations with individual and smaller groups of disciples in which he made things clear “as they were able to hear it” and explained everything at length 4.33-34. Again and again. Helped them work through the implications for themselves. Made the gospel personal, specific and real.

 

How is it revealed? How does the truth hidden within the parables reveal itself? As people listen, as they pay attention to what they hear. There is a spiritual process at work here, of an investment which results in either increase or decrease 4.23-25.

 

Doing the “will of God” is a way of faith. A way of seeing, thinking, believing and acting from faith and not from fear. Jesus’ teaching is designed to enable his disciples to venture out in faith, countering the fear they found wherever they found it, in themselves, in others.

In doing so, they learned to “travel light” 6.6b-13.

 

The school of faith is a company in the wild.

The company in the wild is a school of faith.

Places open to all who are willing to learn. Those who “do the will of God” are Jesus’ true family 3.31-35.   Therefore creating space at the table. Building new alliances.

 

Good news of abundant life will spread, because those who are open to the Spirit are also open to change, and as they are transformed, they can achieve great things. Good soil, fruitfulness, discipleship and mission.

 

Those who do follow have to endure hardship & shortage, enmity without and betrayal within, lack of understanding, hunger and fear.

 

But they will be sustained by signs. Burning bush, Passover, Red Sea deliverance, manna, quails, water from rock, commandments, ark/tabernacle, land of milk and honey as symbols of abundance.

 

“Those around him along with the twelve” have been given the “secret of the kingdom” which enables them to understand the parables 4.10-11. If they understand the parable of the sower, then they will understand them all 4.13. They will have access to the power of the mustard seed.

Doing the “will of God” is a way of faith. A way of seeing, thinking, believing and acting from faith and not from fear. Jesus’ teaching is designed to enable his disciples to venture out in faith, countering the fear they found wherever they found it, in themselves, in others.

The power is in the process. Power of the mustard seed. Ability of process to bridge the chasm. Process carries us forward so that, in faith, we “walk on water” Hugely demanding of its practitioners. May feel that it is way beyond us. But actually that feeling is the right starting point. Not masters of this way, only ever beginners. When we forget that, we falter and fall. When we remember that, we find that any one of us can be the one who speaks the vital word, to makes the critical connection, who does the significant thing which turns the situation around.   Olive Allinn story.

 

In doing so, they learned to “travel light” 6.6b-13. And those who endure to the end will be saved.

 

[What happens to those who are not willing to follow? Lost, damned, destroyed.]

 

This process of living by faith - “Eucharistic Dynamic” - is now applied in a highly specific social and historical context to the broad, complicated and profound problems of living with others, forming and sustaining networks of relationships, and restoring healthy social dynamics.  

If the apostles were not satisfied with this, it was probably because

 

(1) they felt that their part in his mission gave them to a special relationship with him, which they wanted to see acknowledged and honoured. Deriving self esteem, not from God’s faith in them and their faith in themselves, but from their special relationship with Jesus and the status that conferred upon them.

(2) felt they needed a more “advanced” teaching. But what we need to do is keep returning to the beginning - another way of returning to the Source - listen, receive, and learn how to fit what we learn to our need. Rather than asking for special diet, begin with what Jesus tells us and find in it the food we need.

(3) misunderstand what they are seeing. Because he is their model, they assume that he expects them to do what they think he is doing - go on working without feeding. Know they cannot do this, so dismayed and disgruntled. Right to be. Wrong about what Jesus is doing. Knows how to ask. Therefore God gives as we go along. God gives extra when we need it. The Way is the process by which we gain both. The Way enables them to do what he does, to discover the abundance that is reserved for him, and allow it to fill him, and having done so, to overflow to others.

(4) crave a special close relationship with Jesus because believe that guarantees an unbroken supply. And that the supply will be enough. Using primary model of feeding. Need to learn a secondary and tertiary methods.

 

 

 

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