“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.”
I can’t help imagining Jesus suppressing a little smile at this response. He’s just finished a string of parables about the Kingdom of God: the sower, the weeds among the wheat, the treasure found in a field, the pearl of great price, the net cast into the sea catching fish of every kind.
Have you understood all this? Yes, they say, without hesitation. Well, hardly. The whole point of parables is that they are open-ended and give fresh meanings over time, as we bring life experience to bear on them. We can’t say we’ve ever completely understood a parable, because it’s not meant to be understood, in the sense of complete comprehension. But, because we don’t know what we don’t know, we can think we understand.
Those words I remember learning as a young child, for every year throughout Britain, on this night millions of people celebrate what is known as Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawkes Night. Millions of bonfires are lit and millions of fireworks are ignited.