Seeing and Hearing the Word

Matthew 13:16-17
Sir 44:1, 10-15 / Psa 132:11,13-14,17-18

But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.
(Matthew 13:16)

We have received God’s grace of wisdom
To share the Gospel with our neighbor;
It’s but fitting to serve His kingdom,
In thanking Him for this high favor.

(Jesus said), “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Matthew 13:16-17)


Chapter 13 of Matthew’s Gospel contains seven parables, the first of which (Parable of the Sower) may be considered as one of the most insightful and thought-provoking lessons that our Lord Jesus ever taught in the Gospel. After teaching this parable, He paused to give a short exposition, by which Jesus revealed a number of reasons why He spoke to the multitudes in parables.

First, He reminded His apostles how favored they were to hear and understand what many, even prophets and ‘righteous men’ never ‘saw’ (understood) or heard, or could only wonder about. At the same time, Jesus was also implying that His apostles would in time be filled with wisdom and understanding, and they would surely remember His words when the Holy Spirit came upon them on Pentecost. Not so with the “righteous men”, whom Jesus was most likely referring to the religious leaders of the Jews, who “look but do not see, and hear but do not listen and understand,” quoting the prophecy of Isaiah (Isa 6:9-10). Finally, as we reflect on these two verses in today’s short Gospel passage, we come to understand that our Lord’s words are also directed at us, because we are enlightened and transformed by the power of His wisdom and His method of instruction (by parables).

Jesus was clearly going back to His parable of the sower to point out the difference between the unbelievers — the path where the birds snatched the first seeds sown – (Mt.13:4), and His followers — the rich soil where the seeds sown “reaped a hundred, sixty or thirtyfold” (Mt.13:8). The unbelievers will never be converted because their hardened hearts cannot comprehend the lessons imparted in the Bible. Or perhaps they simply refuse to believe in a God that they do not understand, and completely rely on the power of their own intelligence.

We need to have a servant’s heart, humble, patient, trusting and obedient in order to obtain God’s grace of wisdom and understanding. The kingdom of God is of such great value that it will only be given to people who care about the lessons that the Son of God is imparting to those who sincerely seek Him. We know that we care about His lessons when we are prodded by the Holy Spirit to serve Jesus by joining in the mission of spreading His Gospel values to others. Our Church tells us that July is the month of mission. Before this month ends, let us therefore pray that this spirit of mission will become the most important part of our life’s many concerns. After all, this is the reason why we have been so highly favored.

Eternal Father, we praise and thank You for blessing our inner eye with the wisdom to perceive the precious lessons of our savior Jesus Christ. May this privilege motivate us to share the Good News of salvation to others, especially to the “little ones” who hunger for Your Word. Amen.

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