The Parable of the Lamp (Luke 8:16-18)

The Parable of the Lamp

16 “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.

17 For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.

18 Take care, then, how you hear. To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.”

This is the thing about parables; Jesus is going to use many seemingly different parables to teach the populous about the Kingdom of God.  The Parable of the Sower teaches us to look inwardly and consider the fertility of our hearts in receiving and holding on to the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.  Now we’ve read a parable about a lamp that seems to have nothing to do with the Parable of the Sower.  In a certain sense, that’s exactly how it has to be – the two parables are very different.  Yet, in another sense the two parables have something in common – they speak to us about the Kingdom of God.

Imagine for a moment that there is a very large object in a totally dark stadium.  We want to know what the object looks like but our spotlight won’t light up the entire stadium, nor will it shine on the whole object all at once.  In order to find out what the object looks like we have to shine our light on it from many different points of view.  Every time we shine the light we need to make sure that the position of the spotlight is different – but it always gets shined on the object.  Parables are kind of like this; each one give us an image of the Kingdom presented from a different point of view.  Many different parables represent the many different points of view for our spotlight.  But like the spotlight, all the parables illuminate the same object – the Kingdom of God.

So how does the lamp in today’s pericope shine light on the Kingdom?  This parable is about what we should do with the Word of God once we have received it.  That is, it needs to be shared.  If I receive the Word of God, and you receive it too then we will each gain a greater insight into the Kingdom of God if we share with each other what we have received.  As we consider verse 17 we can think about our large object in the dark stadium.  Each parable that we hear and then subsequently share with each other helps to bring everything into the light.

Moreover, verse 18 tells us that as we gain a greater understanding of the Kingdom of God, we are more disposed – that is, our heart is more fertile – to receive the Word.  Furthermore, if we have misunderstood the Word, then in sharing, the misunderstanding will be cleared away – as long as we hear with humility.

Our prayerful response should be o pray for the grace to humbly share the Word of God that we have received, and to humbly receive the Word of God that others share.

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition© 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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