The Kingdom of God Is Like..., Thomas Keating's new book examines the unsettling and thought-provoking messages of Jesus' parables. Again and again this teacher from Galilee assaulted the conventional religious ideas of his day. For Keating, the parables illustrate that God's Kingdom is open to everyone. The old Jewish belief in outsiders and insiders was tossed aside. In addition, Jesus moved the center of the sacred from the temple out into the precincts of everyday life.
Keating interprets "The Parable of the Prodigal Son" as subverting the idea of the chosen and the rejected. Here, God is represented by the father who goes against the patriarchal standards of the day and acts like a mother. Compassion, not justice, is the aim in the Kingdom of God.
To relate to the whole human family as God's family is the essential thrust of the gospel, according to Keating. "The Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man" challenges us to share our abundance with the less fortunate. The same point is made in "The Parable of the Great Dinner."
Keating uses "The Parable of the Mustard Seed" to show that grandiosity has nothing to do with the Kingdom of God. It says that we are doing well if we become like a modest mustard shrub. Although this perspective goes against the drive for success, is one which Jesus emphasized again and again.
Another theme which runs through the parables is the presence of God in the midst of everyday failure, accident, and emptiness. Instead of looking for a way out, we should be looking for signs of God's love and care for us as we struggle with troubles, temptations, and bad habits. After reading The Kingdom of God Is Like... by Thomas Keating, you will agree with the author's belief that "the parables help us to see how extraordinary a wisdom teacher Jesus really was, and how revolutionary, in the best sense of the word, was the content of what he taught."