Joe grew up in a small town, miles from any big city. He was well liked by both adults and children. The town was the kind of place that never changed much. People went to the local school, learned a local trade as they became old enough, and usually settled down only a few blocks from Main Street. Everyone figured Joe would follow suit because he was such a good kid. “Joe’s going places,” he would hear adults say sometimes. “He’s one to watch.”
However, Joe became determined to go to college. He excelled in school. As he progressed through his teenage years, they continued to have good things to say. Teachers seemed impressed with his intellect and encouraged him to keep studying hard. Eventually, his grades qualified him for admittance to a university on the other end of the state. He even earned a scholarship. People seemed excited for him and congratulated him with big smiles.
Four years later, Joe returned to his home town. He applied for a job in the mayor’s office and was quickly hired. Everyone was glad to see him come back and loved to reminisce about old times. But Joe was looking forward. He suggested changes to how the office ran, bringing to bear some of his university studies and knowledge.
My idea for the Parable of the Hailstorm was sparked by the lament of Jesus over Jerusalem as He contemplated the rulers’ rejection of Him and the city’s past and future destruction: “how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matthew 23:37).
Later, after His Crucifixion, He mourned over the people of the Western Hemisphere as they waited in darkness, and over all the house of Israel:
O ye people of these great cities which have fallen, who are descendants of Jacob, yea, who are of the house of Israel, how oft have I gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and have nourished you.
And again, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, who have fallen; yea, O ye people of the house of Israel, ye that dwell at Jerusalem, as ye that have fallen; yea, how oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not.
O ye house of Israel whom I have spared, how oft will I gather you as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, if ye will repent and return unto me with full purpose of heart.
The Lord had a long history with Israel’s descendants, and He had beckoned to them and called upon them time after time to come to Him instead of to the mute and powerless gods worshiped by the nations around them. As He wanted to gather them even when they hadn’t yet been scattered (that gathering is another parable for another day)—He must have wanted to gather them in a sense other than physically.
With general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints happening this weekend (see the link to the right), I thought it appropriate to link to a story told by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in April 2015. The story concerns two brothers and works well as a parable about Jesus Christ.
At the page linked below, you can watch the video or read the talk.