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Bless with Truth
Thursday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Why do you speak to the crowd 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 hearts 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: Lord, thank you for the clear teaching of your Church, and thank you for your parables. You give me the parables as a way of reflecting on my life and how I am responding to your truth. In this time of prayer, Lord, please open both my mind and heart to know you more deeply and follow you more closely so that I may obtain the joy of eternal life in Heaven with you.
- But Why?: The disciples wanted to know why Jesus had begun speaking to the crowds in parables rather than clearly and specifically. It seemed that the crowds didn’t really want to see or hear or understand Jesus. They were entrenched in their own ways of thinking and not open to Jesus’ teaching. Openness would require willingness to change, and they had closed their eyes and ears “lest they see…and hear…and understand…and be converted and (healed).” According to the Catechism, “Through his parables (Jesus) invites people to the feast of the Kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the Kingdom, one must give everything” (CCC 546). May we never be thwarted from listening and embracing the teachings of Christ because of the cost.
- The Back Door: When you go to someone’s back door, it is usually because you know them well and feel comfortable with them. The front door is a little more formal. Offering parables is a little bit like going to the back door. Rather than presenting a clear statement that may immediately elicit resistance (like a door being shut in your face), a parable invites the listener into the mystery of Christ’s Kingdom through very ordinary examples. Then, hopefully, as one works to understand the parable, one is moved by its deep truth. This is a lesson for us as we consider how we evangelize. We are called to remain open to those who do not seem willing to consider the faith we are sharing. We are asked to accompany them in their faith journey over time. We will be most effective if we are able to meet them where they are instead of focusing on what we want to tell them.
- Blessed: Jesus told his disciples that they were blessed—that many longed to see and hear what they were privileged to see and hear. They were given knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. We are likewise blessed. As Catholics, we have been given the deposit of faith in sacred tradition and sacred Scripture, and we are called to share the truth joyfully. St. John Paul II said, “The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council…had as its intention and purpose to highlight the Church’s apostolic and pastoral mission, and by making the truth of the Gospel shine forth, to lead all people to seek and receive Christ’s love which surpasses all knowledge (cf. Ephesians 3:19)” (intro to Fidei Depositum, on the publication of the Catechism). He pointed out that the Council “was to guard and present better” the deposit of faith, “to make it more accessible to the Christian faithful and to all people of good will. For this reason, the Council was not first of all to condemn the errors of the time, but above all to strive calmly to show the strength and beauty of the doctrine of the faith.”
Conversing with Christ: Oh my Jesus, you want all of me, and you are so patient and yet persistent in calling me to that total surrender. While I am a work in progress, you still trust me to share in your mission of reaching the world with the Good News of your salvation and redemption. Lord, grant me the grace of evangelizing as you did. I ask that you give me a loving, patient heart and the desire to help others encounter you.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will have a conversation with someone about Jesus or a teaching of the Church, and in that conversation I will strive to listen deeply and focus on the other person’s thoughts before speaking.
For Further Reflection: Fidei Depositum.
Janet McLaughlin and her husband Chris live on a mountain in rural northeastern Oregon. She puts her Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies to work as she shares the beauty and importance of the lay vocation in her writing, speaking, and teaching on spiritual topics.
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