Welcome back to our Top Ten Coolest Parables! I’ve been on a blogging hiatus for more than a week. I’m too busy beadling around. It’s difficult to be creative, much more to write, when there’s alot of things to manage around the seminary and to coordinate with my superiors. Today nga pala, I renewed for the third time my vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. Any congratulations for me out there? Anyhow, enough of the alibis. Here, as promised, is the conclusion of our Top Ten Coolest Parables…
We begin our countdown with the Parable of the Wedding Feast at the number five slot. It’s about a king who chose congressmen and mayors and wives of generals to be ninongs and ninangs for his son’s wedding. He sent out invitations printed on scented linen paper and has prepared a powerpoint presentation of embarassing childhood photos of the bride and groom and their “pre-wedding honeymoon” in Puerto Galera. But really, do you expect mayors and congressmen to attend a wedding reception on a casino night? Afraid that 200pesos per plate dinner for 500 pax (consisting of a few strands of carbonara, a slice of morcon, a sliver of fish fillet, a small heap of buttered vegetables and a cup of fruit salad) would go to waste, the King rounded up just about anyone in the streets (reminsicent of EDSA Tres) to grace the occasion. The story doesn’t end there. After all the “new guests” have arrived, he refused a person solely because his outfit failed to follow the wedding motif of fuschia and chartreuse (nagspell check pa ako sa word na ito, pink and green lang naman ang ibig sabihin). What I couldn’t believe is that a King made all this fuss of inviting and preparing (except of course, the killing of the ninongs for their non-appearance). Today, that would be the role of the Mother of the Bride, or, more appropriately, the role of a wedding coordinator.
At our number four slot is the Parable of the Lost Sheep! In the pre-GPS days, what is lost has to be searched manually. Now, why sheep? The habit of counting sheep jumping over the fence in order to fall asleep already alludes to this creature’s propensity to get escape and get lost. There are many livestocks in the bible but none has heard of the parable of the lost cattle, goat or chicken. Only sheep. Now, what’s cool with this parable is that it is the most gender-sensitive parable. The shepherd, presumably male, is juxtaposed to another parable, that of a woman who lost one of her ten silver coins. She swept the house, as every woman of her time is wont to do in absence of a vacuum cleaner, to look the coin, then, upon finding it, threw a party (nagpa-cheeseburger siguro sya). Scholars believed that the coin was part of her precious dowry. In layman’s term, that’s her ticket to getting married. I knew of many women who will also turn the house upside down if the end of her spinsterhood depends on a silver coin. I’ve got a feeling this woman and that shepherd would make a good couple.
Bagging the third place is the Parable of the Good Samaritan! This parable carries the classic bar joke formula, “The third guy always has the punchline.” If the Filipino joke involves an Amerikano, a Hapon and a Pinoy while the British joke characters are English, Irish and Welsh, this parable has a priest, a Levite and a Samaritan. As it turn out, being helped by a stranger (wasn’t that the last line from Street Car Named Desire?) made the day. The Good Samaritan became a by-word for any stranger who lent a hand for someone in urgent need. Truth to tell, the biblical Good Samaritan points to someone whom we see as our mortal enemy but saves our sorry butts in the end. To the Good Samaritans of our lives, they surely have the last laugh.
The second place goes to The Parable of the Beggar and the Rich Man! This parable has the honor of having characters with an actual names. The beggar is named Lazarus, while tradition has it that the rich man is called Dives (Latin word for Filthy Rich). This is a parable of two acts. The first act is at the comedor of the Dives residence, probably furnished with a Cobonpue dining set and faux Thai wall panellings by Willy Layug. Dives turned out to be a messy eater because his table habits has provided enough sustenance for quite a number of dogs and has inspired the beggar Lazarus to literally go under the table in hope of a better lunch. Then death came to the two. In my mind, Medical City coronary declared Dives dead due to acute pancreatitis (bangungot) while the Bible subtly implied that the galising Lazarus is nadale ng rabies. Dives then suffered in hell while Lazarus rests at the bosom of Abraham (I’ve never known Abe to be… bosomy). It should be noted that Dives here didn’t do anything mean to Lazarus. He went to hell mainly because he failed to recognize a human being under his nose and invite him to share in his dinner. Hmmm… I’m becoming preachy here. Better give you the winning parable.
Now, the number one coolest Parable is… The Prodigal Son! This “Primetime Bida”-worthy parable is actually a continuation of the “Lost Sheep and Coin” narrative, made more mushy maudlin and melodramatic. Any Catholic decent enough to be called one knows this story by heart. But not everyone really knows what “prodigal” means. To the most of us, I myself included, “prodigal” means someone disrespectful, disobedient and even ungrateful to his parents. It’s a touch baffling to know that it actualy means someone who doesn’t know how to handle his money, a spendthrift, a compulsive buyer, or more appropriately in tagalog, alibugha. But even alibugha is often associated to being a family’s black sheep and not from being magastos. On our parable, the magastos trait seems genetic: the son is prodigal precisely because the father is prodigal himself. When his son returned, he went overload in spending by throwing rave parties for the son, no questions asked. Now, why is this the coolest for me? Simply because this is true: It’s the story of our life just waiting to happen. Any moment now, we’ll wake up one morning and decide to return to Him. Just imagine what great gifts await us. This is because we, people, have a God who truly knows how to party.
Teka, naiiyak na ako…