Strand: Scripture, Israel and Jesus (SIJL1-2E3)
Levels 1 and 2
Parables have enduring wisdom to be interpreted in the context of the time in which they were told by Jesus. This allows people to hear the living voice of Jesus speaking into their lives and the world.
Interpret God’s 'dream for the world' through the parables and identify the challenges this poses for Christians today.
The Catholic Church interprets the Bible in order to make meaning of its place and purpose in the world and to enlighten its members on their journey of faith. A parable is a literary form that uses a fictional story or metaphor to make a point. They were frequently told by Jesus, using examples from the original audience’s every day experience, such as planting seed, baking bread, herding sheep etc. but less familiar to a contemporary audience. Parables were a central feature of Jesus’ teaching ministry, always with the intention of conveying a religious truth or message about God’s dream for the world; offering wisdom for life.
The Parables are located in the New Testament in the three Synoptic gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke. Some parables, e.g. the Parable of the Mustard Seed and The Parable of the Sower, are referenced in all three gospels; whereas other parables are recorded only once, e.g. The ‘Lost’ parables in Luke.
A useful approach in teaching scripture to children is to use Dr Margaret Carswell’s ‘Composite Model.’ This includes three steps:
- Prepare to hear the Word: Teach the background to the text. For example, the cultural, historical and geographic, religious, political and scientific understandings of the time. (Resources include The Friendly Guide to various books of scripture, the introductory page at the beginning of each book of the Catholic Youth Bible, multiple resources in your school’s RE library section).
- Hear and Encounter the Word: Tell the story over and over to the children verbally before reading a high quality Catholic translation of the text to them. (e.g. NRSV or NIV). Identify the literary form, then allow the children to engage with a close reading of the language of the text, using learning strategies appropriate to this literary form. It is important to note that the background and language of a passage of scripture always must occur before attempting to interpret it. What then might this text have been saying to the original audience about God, people and how they were to get along together?
- Respond to the Word: Invite children to wonder/learn inquire further. What might the text now challenge them to consider? What might this scripture passage be saying about God’s dream for the world? Those with a faith stance are invited to pray in this time.
Examples in Scripture include but are not limited to:
- Parable of the Sower: Mt 13:1-23; Mk 4:1-20; Lk 8:4-15
- Parable of the Mustard Seed: Mt 13:31-32; Mk 4:30-32; Lk 13:18-19
- Parable of the Yeast: Mt 13:33; Lk 13:20-21
- The ‘Lost’ Parables: Lk 15:1-32
- The Catholic Youth Bible: Second International Edition, Saint Mary’s Press.