Jesus parables seem to take us to a liminal space where the landscape of life is pulled out from under our feet. Jesus lobs the parable into the crowd like a time bomb. He doesn’t wait to give an answer, he watches from a distance as the crowd struggles to diffuse it. It challenges our preconceived notions about God, justice and love. The parable explodes, people struggle to find something to hang on to. Safety, certitude are no where to be found. The only thing left to hang on to is grace.
Take for example, the story of Jesus feeding the multitude. Maybe, its not a miracle in the sense of Jesus lifting his hands and suddenly appeared enough loaves and bread to feed 5,000. The law of physics don't operate that way, and my mind tells me not to argue with reality.
But what if it was 5,000 poor and oppressed people with little to nothing in the middle of nowhere. When life has become an absolute struggle, fear sets in. We reinforce our lives with walls, we dig trenches to protect the little we have. We are far less likely to share with a stranger let alone a friend. Even Darwin would predict only the strong will survive.
What if there was a young kid in the crowd who overheard Jesus telling his disciples to feed the crowd, and the disciples mumbling as to where they might find it.
Then, the kid offering his merger bag lunch of a few loaves and fish to Jesus. It was an utter ridiculous jester. Mind boggling!
What if Jesus raised in hands to something beyond every preconceived idea he had about God, and prayed for an unimaginable reaction, a unifying force or energy, a spirit to hover over the crowd.
What if the crowd seeing this insane act. A crazy human being filled with radical scandalous imagination holding a bag lunch believing it would feed the crowd.
What if someone in the crowd seeing this madness and seeing a family sitting beside him looking a little worse than his own family. What if he took some of the meager scraps of food he had and shared it.
What would happen if this action, this energy or force, or spirit began to spread through out the multitude. What if everyone lowered their walls, and climbed out their trenches and shared with one another.
What if they all fed one another. Everyone was full, no one was hungry.
What if spirit of generosity and hospitality was so overwhelming that there was baskets, bins of food left over.
It’s Bono that said, “ God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them.”
It’s time and time, again, over and over, every Sunday that we see the gospel unfold before our eyes. Its having the eyes to see, and the ears to hear and to have the redemptive imagination of Jesus to see and build a new world.
And so it was some 14 years ago, when two women were ignited by the spirit of redemptive imagination giving out a few meager bag lunches to poor marginalized strangers in the inner city. Now on any given Sunday its around 200 people.