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Becoming Spiritually Rich
Thursday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
The disciples approached him and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He said to them in reply, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand. Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be converted, and I heal them. But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to 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.”
Opening Prayer: Jesus, open my ears and eyes to your Word. Plant it deep inside my heart. Let it take root and grow into a beautiful, fruitful planting of the Lord to show your glory (cf Isaiah 61:3).
- Why Parables?: Just before this Gospel reading, Jesus told the crowd the parable of the sower. His answer to why he used parables might lead one to believe that he deliberately tried to keep the truth from the crowd. But that is not the case. In fact, he taught them slowly in ways that they could understand. Many of the people in the crowd may have been unready to hear the full truth of the Gospel; however, they could relate to the stories in the parables and learn some portion of the truth. Parables take concepts that are difficult to understand and place them inside stories about familiar topics. Also, because the answers given in parables are indirect, they work like puzzles, giving our minds time to figure out what is being said, leading to deeper apprehension.
- Spiritual Poverty: Jesus described the crowd as being spiritually poor. They had dull, disordered hearts. Their eyes and ears were closed to seeing and hearing the truth. We can ask ourselves if we have closed our eyes or shut our ears to any truths that the Church teaches. If there are certain topics that we question, we can bring them to prayer and ask God to enlighten our hearts and minds. We can ask the Holy Spirit to bless us with the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding in order to help us process the teachings.
- Spiritual Richness: Jesus described how the disciples heard the Word in a different way. God had blessed their hearts, eyes, and ears with the gift of understanding. But Jesus expected more from them than merely understanding. “To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich…” (Matthew 13:12). The purpose of understanding the Word of God is conversion. We grow spiritually rich when we read the Word with our eyes or hear it with our ears, examine it with our minds, and allow it to penetrate our hearts, which become healed and thus converted. This does not happen solely by our own power, but is granted by God: “But the Lord has not given you a heart to understand, or eyes to see, or ears to hear until this day” (Deuteronomy 29:3).
Conversing with Christ: Dear Jesus, please give me a lively heart that is rightly ordered to your truth. Give me eyes that are open and ready to follow your light. Give me ears that are eager to listen to your life-giving Word. Grant me the grace of continual conversion so that I grow closer to you each day.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray for those who are in any type of spiritual poverty and reflect on ways that I may alleviate that poverty if you are calling me to do so.
For Further Reflection: Read these 10 Inspiring Quotes from Mother Teresa (St. Teresa of Calcutta) from Aleteia, especially those about spiritual poverty.
Written by Carey Boyzuck.