Feast Day August 28

The Story of St. Augustine of Hippo

In his famous autobiography Confessions, Augustine tells of his struggle to find God. He was born in what is now Algiers in North Africa. His mother, Monica, was a devout Christian. His father, Patricius, was an ill-tempered pagan. Augustine excelled in school when he wanted to, but he also went with a bad crowd and got into many worthless activities. When he was older, he began living with a woman whom he never married, but who bore him a son. For a while, he also followed a heresy called Manichaeism.

After he finished school, Augustine was first a speech teacher in Rome and then a professor in Milan. His mother followed him to these places, pleading with him to return to the

Christian faith. In Milan, Augustine often listened to the sermons of St. Ambrose, the local bishop. Through them, he first learned to read Scripture prayerfully. He enrolled as a catechumen but wavered back and forth about being baptized.  Then one day while Augustine prayed to be free from his sins, he heard a child’s voice chanting, “Take up and read.” Augustine opened the Bible and read the first thing his eyes fell upon, Romans 13:13-14, which told him to give up his life of sin. Augustine was baptized at Easter and began reforming his life. With his mother he planned to return to Africa, but Monica died.

Augustine reached home and gave away all he had. Then he lived a quiet, prayerful life with a group of friends. This changed when Augustine visited the city of Hippo in 391. Valerius, the local bishop, was preaching on the shortage of priests. The crowd began shouting, “Let Augustine be our priest.” Augustine became a priest and then took Valerius’ place when he died.  As bishop, Augustine worked tirelessly for his people. He fought false religious teachings, protected the people from corrupt officials and invaders, and cared for the sick, the poor, and those in prison. His many sermons, letters, and books reflect the ever-deepening love he felt for God. He wisely observed: “You have made us, O God, for yourself, and our hearts shall find no rest until they rest in you.”

He wrote and advised bishops, popes, and councils. His influence on the Church and his fight against heresy were exceptional. He was loved by many, for he had struggled much and could help others who were struggling.

In 430 Vandals invaded the province. For three months Augustine inspired Christian hope in his people. Then he died of a high fever.

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Parables and How Jesus Taught with Them

Jesus often used parables to teach people and to make a point. Parables are a Jewish style of storytelling. The stories are drawn from ordinary life. Parables usually contain some element that is strange or unusual, and they are used to illustrate or compare ideas. They do not define things precisely, but use comparisons to point us in the direction of an understanding of how God works. The meaning of parables is never too obvious, and indeed, the purpose of parables is not to settle issues, but to challenge us to think more deeply about the issues.

Because parables are drawn from everyday life, it would seem that Jesus used them in order to make it easier for his listeners to understand his message. However, if you read Matthew 13:10-17, you will see that Jesus did not expect people to understand what he was saying. If you think you know what the parable means at first glance, chances are you missed the point. This is because parables are not as clear as you might expect. There is always some doubt about the exact point of the story, and the result is that the listener or reader wonders why the story is so strange or unsettling—“Hey, that's not supposed to happen that way!” You begin to think more deeply about the meaning of the parable. That is the goal—parables raise more questions than answers. They help us see beyond the obvious into the deeper meaning that Jesus had in mind. That is why the parables of Jesus continue to fascinate us two thousand years later.

Pick any of the parables listed below. Take time to read and reread it. If the parable can be found in more than one Gospel, read that version too. Think about what Jesus might have had in mind when he was telling that parable. What was he trying to get across to his listeners? How did Jesus want them to think or act differently after hearing the parable? How does it encourage you to think or act differently? Talk to God in the quiet of your heart about the parable. Ask him to help shed some light on it for you.

The Two Houses - Luke 6:47-49; Matthew 7:24-27

The Closed Door - Luke 13:24-30

The Great Feast - Luke 14:16-24

The 10 Gold Coins  - Luke 19:12-27; Matthew 25:14-30

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