Parables and the Principle of Mercy Reading Parables Alongside the Work of Jon Sobrino

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Matthew Gordley

Abstract

Because of their open-ended nature and subject matter relating to justice and mercy, parables are a disarming way of inviting students into dialogue about their own ethical views. By reading parables in light of the writings of Jon Sobrino on the principle of mercy, students come to see how parables call readers to a particular set of responses to the most vulnerable. Parables like the Rich Man and Lazarus, the Good Samaritan, and the Laborers in the Vineyard all take on deeper meaning when paired with the insights of Sobrino on the complex inter-relationships between the poor and wealthy or the marginalized and the powerful. This article highlights the insights that emerge in a first-year seminar course when reading parables through this particular lens, and suggests approaches to applying these insights in a wider campus context.

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