Scripture: Matthew 13:10-17 (alternate reading: Matthew 20:20-28)
10 Then the disciples came and said to him, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" 11 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. 12 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. 13 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. 14 With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says: `You shall indeed hear but never understand, and you shall indeed see but never perceive. 15 For this people's heart has grown dull, and their ears are heavy of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should perceive with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn for me to heal them.' 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
Meditation: Do you want to grow in your knowledge of God? Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) once said: "I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe." Both faith and understanding are gifts of the Holy Spirit that enable us to hear God's word with clarity so we can know God better and grow in the knowledge of his love and truth. Jesus, however, had to warn his disciples that not everyone would understand his teaching. The prophet Isaiah had warned that some would hear God's word, but not believe, some would see God's actions and miracles, and remained unconvinced. Ironically some of the greatest skeptics of Jesus' teaching and miracles were the learned scribes and Pharisess who prided themselves on their knowledge of scripture, especially on the law of Moses. They heard Jesus' parables and saw the great signs and miracles which he performed, but they refused to accept both Jesus and his message. How could they "hear and never understand" and "see but never perceive"? They were spiritually blind and deaf because their hearts were closed and their minds were blocked by pride and prejudice. How could a man from Galilee, the supposed son of a carpenter, know more about God and his word, than these experts who devoted their lives to the study and teaching of the law of Moses?
There is only one thing that can open a closed, confused, and divided mind – a broken heart and humble spirit! The word disciple means one who is willing to learn and ready to submit to the wisdom and truth which comes from God. Psalm 119 expresses the joy and delight of a disciple who loves God's word and who embraces it with trust and obedience. "Oh, how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation." (Psalm 119:97-99)
God can only reveal the secrets of his kingdom to the humble and trusting person who acknowledges their need for God and for his truth. The parables of Jesus will enlighten us if we approach them with an open mind and heart, ready to let them challenge us. If we approach God's word with indifference, skepticism, and disbelief, then we, too, may "hear but not understand" and "see but not perceive." God's word can only take root in a receptive heart that is ready to believe and willing to submit. If we want to hear and to understand God's word, we must listen with reverence and faith. Do you believe God's word and do you submit to it with trust and reverence?
Jerome, an early church bible scholar who lived between 342-419 AD, wrote: "You are reading [the scriptures]? No.Your betrothed is talking to you. It is your betrothed, that is, Christ, who is united with you. He tears you away from the solitude of the desert and brings you into his home, saying to you, 'Enter into the joy of your Master.'"
"Holy Spirit, be my teacher and guide. Open my ears to hear God's word and open my eyes to understand God's action in my life. May my heart never grow dull and may my ears never tire of listening to the voice of Christ."
5 Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God, your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD.
7 How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of men take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
8 They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.
10 O continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your salvation to the upright of heart!