Parables in Haiku

The Gospels assigned to the Sundays of Ordinary Time during cycle A and the civil calendar’s July have been from the 13th chapter of Matthew’s gospel. Chapter 13 is composed of many parables of Jesus. The parables are some of my favorite texts to preach. I was blessed to have some great professors in the area of interpretation of parables of Jesus and preaching back in my seminary days who turned me on to the world of parables. I often tell people, parables are windows into the Kingdom of God. Parables should always have you feeling a little off-balance. Parables are related to the art of joke telling since there is always an unexpected twist to the story that should surprise you. Parables are ment to get the hearer to experience what it’s like to live with God totally in control of life, to live in the reign of God.

Once, a few years ago, I set for myself a personal challenge to convey the meaning of a parable in the poetic form of haiku. I was going to do several parables, but like many of my projects, the effort got side-tracked and I only completed two haiku poems based on two parables from chapter 13 of Matthew.  You may recall that the haiku form of poetry from Japan involves three lines, the first line having 5 syllables, the second line having 7 syllables and the third line has 5. You might say they are the original “Tweet” message form meant to convey a lot of information in a very packed, concise format.

The two parables I worked with to convey the experience and meaning in haiku were the two parables proclaimed at this past Sunday’s Eucharist according to the Roman Rite lectionary. I publish them here for your consideration.

Hidden Treasure

Matthew 13:44-45
Jesus said to his disciples:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (RNAB)

Field gives up great gift
possess without revealing
it’s mine makes me God’s

Pearl of Great Price

Matthew 13:46
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. (RNAB)

Most excellent pearl
sell all buy before too late
now what? Live in grace

Haikus © Joseph C. Rascher, January 15, 2003
Scripture translation Revised New American Bible  © USCCB

About frjcrascher

Pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church in Trenton, IL View all posts by frjcrascher

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