Reflections on the readings of Sundays and feasts March-May 2016


Abstract
Craig, Barry M Today's gospel reading includes one of the eleven parables unique to Luke; it is also one of the most well known, and is often said to be misnamed in its common designation as the Prodigal Son. Many parables are similarly named in ways that appear to miss the point of their telling, but this tendency actually points to how we engage with all stories, and the power of Christ's storytelling. We need to realise that the mind does not distinguish between reality and fiction, for all viewing and understanding of the world takes place in our heads. Thus we respond emotionally and even physically in the same way to what we see unfolding, be it real-time events in the world or depicted events, historical or fictional, as mediated by actors and machinery at the movies. In the same way, we do not distinguish between reports of actual happenings and fictional stories. Should there be any doubt about this, ask yourself: Have I ever cried at a movie, or laughed, or grown angry, or felt anything, or ducked, jumped or reacted in any way at all? At a recent viewing of Les Miserables someone at the end of the row was overcome with uncontrollable sobbing as the movie drew to an end. This distraction provided suitable cover for not a few people to sneak hankies out of pockets and return them before lights returned. If we did not respond to movies there would be no point in seeing them. Similarly with novels. They are also fodder for our imaginations, where we in a sense try on the experiences of others, imaginatively inhabiting the bodies and feelings of others. This is the basis of empathy, and the source of the power of storytelling.
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