“The Long and Winding Road” by The Beatles describes the sojourn that is life on Earth in a delightfully melodic way.
The long and winding road that leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before it always leads me here
Leads me to your door
The sojourn of Faith, if chronicled in music, would take multiple recordings with much more than just melody to tell the tale. The dissonance and irregular tempos of Christian living, along with extended periods of silence, would most likely not make the Top Forty or Hit Parade. The parables of Jesus, however, do an excellent job of conveying the truths of the Gospel.
The Parable of the Sower
This well-known parable is widely used at the beginning of most catechetical instruction in Catholicism.
With a large crowd gathering and people from every town finding their way to him, he told this parable:
And some seed fell into good soil and grew and produced its crop a hundredfold.’ Saying this he cried, ‘Anyone who has ears for listening should listen!’ (Luke 8:4-8)
This well-known parable is widely used at the beginning of most catechetical instruction in Catholicism. Once it is established that God provides the seed of Faith, it is incumbent upon us to “till the soil” of our hearts to receive it. At baptism, our condition is rich and fertile. We sojourn through childhood to adolescence with a field that can facilitate seedtime and harvest relatively unencumbered. The weeds of a poor choice that started growing by the age of reason may have already overtaken the garden of faith. From adolescence on, the footpath and rocky soil examples become distinct possibilities. Constant attention must be taken to “clear the ground” from the debris of sin to ensure fertile ground and healthy growth. The Sacrament of Confession is the perfect implement for such a task, leading to full maturity.
The Prodigal Son
The profligate life of the younger son in this parable is well known. He is the main character of the story, and quite a few lessons can be gleaned from the repentance and forgiveness that he received.
So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast,because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began. (Luke 15:20-24)
The father, representing God, is seen ready and waiting to welcome his wayward son back into his arms and household. As a ring is placed on his finger, and sandals on his feet, the young man is treated to a fabulous party complete with a fatted calf. As the party commences, the elder brother is seen standing outside, refusing to have anything to do with the festivities. Our pathway to holiness and conformity to God’s will is thwarted by bitterness and withholding forgiveness. Just as the father appealed to the elder brother to come inside and join the festivities, our Father in Heaven beckons us to return to Him in reconciliation.
The Wedding Feast
In this parable, we find a man who is singled out from among all of the guests at a wedding feast.
* But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence.*Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’Many are invited, but few are chosen.”(Matthew 22:11-14)
An exclusive guest list had turned into a “come one, come all” invitation to anyone willing to show up. The host addresses the man as a friend, and simply asks why he is not properly dressed. Instead of answering, the man says nothing. It is only then that his invitation is cancelled and he is punished.
The universal call to holiness is extended to every single man, woman, and child whoever was, is now or ever will be. This call, as represented in the parable, has only two conditions: to come to the Eschatological Banquet, and to be properly dressed for the occasion. Using a little prophetic imagination, the following scene begins to take shape: in my particular judgment before God, I might be asked why I am not properly dressed. My answer (I hope) would be something like “I’m sorry, where can I find the proper clothing?” The answer could be “there’s a place called purgatory that has your exact size”. See you at the wedding feast!