Grace to you!
We continue the reflections centered on the parables of the Kingdom, which the Lord Jesus richly shared in the Gospel of Matthew 13. Here we look at two critical lessons of why the Lord uses the parables and how God's grace increases upon those who welcome it.
The Gospel of Matthew chapter thirteen documents as many as seven parables the Lord Jesus used to teach the audience. Jesus used them to distinguish the Kingdom he had come to establish from the popular view. His immediate audience's popular view about God's Kingdom was, for the most part, seen as the exclusive reserve of a particular race. It was territorial, if not nationalistic.
In the parables, the Lord presents the universality of God and his reign and the need for the individual person to embrace divine grace to be welcomed as a member of that Kingdom. Thus, a personal commitment is required for one to be a child of the Kingdom. Race or tribe or nation was not necessary.
But then, the apostles wondered why the Lord speaks more in parables to those who have not accepted his message, than in plain words as he does to his disciples. We hear the Lord's response:
"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 him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand" (Mt 13:11-13).
One can draw some lessons from this message. Anyone who welcomes the invitation of divine grace is granted the favor of constant renewal. The person sees deeper and deeper the truth of the Divine Life. It is common sense to look at it this way because no one knows a person more than those closest to his or her heart. The closer we are in communion with God, the deeper we understand his conversations. It is no surprise that those who have advanced in the interior life tend to excel in grasping divine affectionate messages. They have heightened discernment and can pierce through things quickly.
Such experience is grace because God reveals to them what he speaks to his Church through his word and the sacraments. They receive grace upon grace. It is not a revelation of exclusive private insight in the gnostic style, but a discovery of what has already been revealed. The grasp is better than ever. It no longer sounds like a parable. It is God communicating in plain words to the
soul who is in an intimate relationship with him.
The above is not so with those whose minds and hearts are closed against God's message and his Christ. Their vision becomes foggier, and their hearts more distracted. To them, the message of God sounds like a caricature. It looks like foolish.
The reason is that "seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand" (v. 13). The above answer could mean that even the clear message of the Gospel that excites the humble and grace-filled hearts does not make sense to them at all. It sounds like a parable.
It could also mean that because they aren't ready for it, the Lord communicates in ways to make them realize how empty their so-called wisdom is. By so doing, perhaps, they will get back to school, the drawing board of true knowledge.
We all know that when someone has no compelling challenge against their claim to what they think they know, they become kings in their ignorance. Or, as an African proverb suggests, they become the king that seeks no counsel. But when they are exposed to different realities and, hopefully, realize that what they think they know was empty, it is a humbling opportunity to seek and maybe find the truth. One may call this an indirect invitation of grace. The parable stirs the heart to seek and hopefully find answers.
I pray that we humble ourselves so we can see, hear, and understand divine conversations. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Thursday Week 16: Jeremiah 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-1; Matthew 13:10-17]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.