The Purpose of Parables

Matthew 13: 10-17
Ex 19: 1-2, 9-11,16-20b / Dn 3

To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.
(Matthew 13:11)

Who shuns Gods Word knows no freedom,
Life’s meaning he will never see;
He who has faith gains more wisdom
And understands God’s mystery.

Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And He answered them, “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 the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one 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. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear,
and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear 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. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Matthew 13: 10-17)

Reflection

Why indeed did Jesus deliver His messages in parables? Well, first of all, our Lord was a great storyteller, and He knew that His listeners would easily retain the lessons they learned if they heard them in stories that they could relate to. Like the Parable of the Sower was as interesting as it was instructive, and one could glean fruits of wisdom in its illustrations. The other practical reason why Jesus spoke in parables was to avoid a direct confrontation with His critics, the religious authorities, who were always ready to pounce on Him if He so much as made any derogatory remark about their Mosaic laws and rituals. The disciples of Jesus were also favored because they were like innocent children, trusting in Jesus’ words even if they were at first confused. But not the self-righteous Jewish leaders and their followers, who were always skeptical about the words and even the miraculous works of Jesus.

“To the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (13:12). These words referred to people who rejected the teachings of Jesus because they had no faith in Him nor any knowledge of Scriptures, from which they could have recognized Him as the prophesied Messiah. But for the disciples of Jesus, they would be given more wisdom and understanding. It takes a certain amount of imagination and reflection to grasp the parables of Jesus, but without love and faith in the Lord, those who are baffled by them will not even try to understand them.

What we can understand in today’s Gospel is that there are only two kinds of people in this world: those who hear and live the Word of God in their lives, and those who never bother to listen, or choose to harden their hearts and so lose the opportunity to know the truth of God’s Word and be enlightened. In our community, after we end a bible sharing, we decide on what action word we can apply in relation to what we have learned in our Gospel sharings. Acting immediately on the Word of God is a sure way of retaining it in our hearts, never to be lost again. May we act on all the lessons that we read daily from the Bible, as we learn the Truth in the Gospel, and so continue to grow in the gentle ways of Jesus.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for the lessons You impart to us in the Bible. In it are found great and marvelous truths which so many have never grasped and which all mankind desperately need to know. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for helping us understand its secret treasures. Amen.

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