Thursday, July 26, 2018
1) Opening prayer
be merciful to Your people.
Fill us with Your gifts
and make us always eager to serve You
in faith, hope and love.
You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 13:10-17
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."
• Chapter 13 speaks to us about the discourse on the parables. Following the text of Mark (Mk 4:1-34), Matthew omits the parable of the seed which germinates alone (Mk 4:26-29), and he stops at the discussion of the reason for the parable (Mt 13:10-17), adding the parable of the wheat and the darnel (Mt 13:24-30), of the yeast (Mt 13:33), of the treasure (Mt 13:44), of the pearl (Mt 13:45-46) and of the dragnet (Mt 13:47-50). Together with the parable of the sower (Mt 13:4-11) and of the mustard seed (Mt 13:31-32), there are seven parables in the Discourse on the Parables (Mt 13:1-50).
• Matthew 13:10: The question. In the Gospel of Mark, the disciples ask for an explanation of the parables (Mk 4:10). Here in Matthew, the perspective is different. They want to know why Jesus, when He speaks to the people, speaks only in parables: “Why do You talk to them in parables?” What is the reason for this difference?
• Matthew 13:11-13: “Because to you is granted to understand the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not granted. Anyone who has will be given more and will have more than enough; but anyone who has not will be deprived even of what he has. The reason I speak to them in parables is that they look without seeing and listen without hearing or understanding. Jesus answers: “Because to you is granted to understand the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven. Anyone who has will be given more and will have more than enough; but anyone who has not will be deprived even of what he has.” Why is it granted to the Apostles to know and not to others? Here is a comparison to help us understand. Two people listen to the mother who teaches: A person must not cut and sew.” One of them is the daughter and the other is not. The daughter understands and the other one understands nothing. Why? Because in the mother’s house the expression “cut and sew” means to slander. Thus, the mother’s teaching helps the daughter to understand how to put love into practice, helping her so that what she already knows may grow, develop. Anyone who has will be given more. The other person understands nothing and loses even the little that she knew regarding love and slander. She remains confused and does not understand what love has to do with cutting and sewing! Anyone who has not will be deprived even of what he has. A parable reveals and hides at the same time! It reveals for “those who are inside,” who accept Jesus as the Messiah Servant. It hides from those who insist on saying that the Messiah will be and should be a glorious King. These understand the image presented by the parable, but they do not understand the significance. The disciples, instead, grow in what they already know concerning the Messiah. The others do not understand anything and lose even the little that they thought they knew about the Kingdom and the Messiah.
• Matthew 13:14-15: The fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah. Just as at another time (Mt 12:18-21), in this different reaction of the people and the Pharisees to the teaching of the parables, Matthew again sees here the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. He even quotes at length the text of Isaiah which says, “Listen and listen, but never understand! Look and look, but never perceive! This people’s heart has grown coarse, their ears dulled, they have shut their eyes tight to avoid using their eyes to see, their ears to hear, their heart to understand, changing their ways and being healed by Me.”
• Matthew 13:16-17: “But blessed are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear.” All this explains the last sentence: “But blessed are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear. In truth I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see and never saw it, to hear what you hear and never heard it!”
• The Parables: a new way of speaking to the people about God. People remained impressed by the way in which Jesus taught. “A new way of teaching! Given with authority! Different from that of the scribes!” (Mk 7:28). Jesus had a great capacity for finding very simple images to compare the things of God with the things of life which people knew and experienced in the daily struggle to survive. This presupposes two things: to be in touch with the things of the life of the people, and to be in touch with the things of God, of the Kingdom of God. In some parables there are things that happen and that seldom take place in life. For example, when has it ever happened that a shepherd, who has one hundred sheep, abandons the flock with 99 to go and look for the lost sheep? (Lk 15:4). Where have we ever seen a father who accepts with joy and a feast his son who had squandered all his goods, without saying a word of reproach to him? (Lk 15:20-24). When has it been seen that a Samaritan man is better than a Levite, than a priest? (Lk 10:29-37). The parable makes one think. It leads the person to enter into the story beginning from the experience of life. And through our experience it urges us to discover that God is present in our daily life. The parable is a participative form of teaching and educating. It does not change everything in one minute. It does not make one know; it makes one discover. The parable changes our perspective; it makes the person who listens a contemplative; it helps her to observe reality. This is the novelty of the teaching of the parables of Jesus, different from that of the doctors who taught that God manifests Himself only in the observance of the law. “The Kingdom is present in your midst” (Lk 17:21). But those who listened did not always understand.
4) Personal questions
• Jesus says, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the Kingdom.” When I read the Gospels, am I like those who understand nothing or like those to whom it has been granted to know the Kingdom?
• What role does the Father’s gratuitous grace have in understanding these parables?
• Which is the parable of Jesus with which I most identify ? Why?
5) Concluding Prayer
Yahweh, Your faithful love is in the heavens;
Your constancy reaches to the clouds;
Your saving justice is like towering mountains,
Your judgments like the mighty deep. (Ps 36:5-6)