July 23, 2020, Thursday of the Sixteenth Week of Ordinary Time
Scripture: Matthew 13:10-17
Then the disciples came and asked him, ‘Why do you speak to them in parables?’ He answered, ‘To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. The reason I speak to them in parables is that “seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.” With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says:
“You will indeed listen, but never understand,
and you will indeed look, but never perceive.
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and their ears are hard of hearing,
and they have shut their eyes;
so that they might not look with their eyes,
and listen with their ears,
and understand with their heart and turn—
and I would heal them.”
But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.
The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
“. . . seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand. . . . But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears.”
This is one of the most difficult passages when we pause and really think about it. It was my “preaching text” a few Sundays ago. The disciples have asked Jesus why he often speaks in parables. His answer seems to suggest that he doesn’t want the crowd to grasp the meaning of his words and be saved. Hello?!! Do you find that as troubling as I do?
But Scripture is a unity; its parts are meant to be read in light of other parts. Elsewhere in Scripture it says: “God . . . will everyone to be saved” (1 Tim. 2:3-4). So, whatever Jesus’ meaning was, his parables must have been meant for the good of the people of his time and place. Perhaps he spoke in parables so that some people could mull over his words before making a decision, and others could ignore the message until they were ready to respond to it later on.
In any event, how does this passage relate to us?
I think about the above-mentioned two groups of hearers: those who ponder the words and those who set it aside for later. Which group do I belong to? God wants to speak to me personally through his word. But I have to be open to receive that word, giving the Spirit an opportunity to communicate the message I am meant to hear. May my ears be “blessed.”
Jesus, Word of the Father, help me to open myself to your message. May I not close my ears too soon, thinking I’ve already heard what you want to tell me through a particular passage. Teach me to give the Spirit time to inspire and stir my heart.
Spirit of God, teach me how to really listen.