A LAMP ON A STAND
The Gospels would seem to have on a common baseline,
which has been used to preach a variety of messages
much as preachers use Bible texts today.
The variations in the parable are themselves a parable
These stories are second or third hand accounts of what Jesus did and said,
often written down with a bias that reflects particular local concerns,
or the intentional thrust of particular teachers.
All have, of course, suffered the ravages of time and copyists.
It is in vain that our theologians sift the meaning
from the individual words of the Bible, or even the separated stories.
Yet the thrust of God's message is clearly written in scripture.
Even in this short passage, which twice follows the tale of the Sower,
we can see a common thread:
that God's truth is available and that we are called not to misuse it.
The corollary might be that we have done so in many different ways
(slavery, sexism, conquest, individualism....)
and need to find our way out of the mire, somehow.
Yet there are too many vested interests in the clerical empire
for the church to have a ready exit strategy from its dilemma
and we have no leverage with which to move the mountain.
The Reformation took us a step upon the way,
but we have further to go if we are to cleanse the church.