Reflection on the Daily Readings for 7/23/09 by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Thurs. of 16th week. Exodus 19:1-2.9-11.16-20. Daniel
3:184.108.40.206.56. Matthew 13:10-17. Lectionary # 398:
Parables are puzzling. We often allegorize them by taking each thought and
then saying it applies to this; the next one to something else and so on.
But the gift of a parable is that it is saying one thing that Jesus is
emphasizing. And it usually fits into the fact of his preaching that the
kingdom of God has arrived and is near within our reach. It even is in our
hearts when we truly listen and put into practice what God wants of us. It
is a response of love. The disciples themselves are questioning why Jesus
uses parables. The Evangelists sometimes take the parable and allegorize
it but the primary thrust of a parable is that it is saying one thing.
Jesus assures the disciples that they have heard the parable and are, after
following him and listening to him, privileged to know the mysteries of the
kingdom of God.
We hear many parables from the Gospels but it is Matthew who is emphasizing
the parables of the kingdom of God and that should tell us that the kingdom
of God consists here on earth in doing what Jesus does–the will of God the
Father. No small task. We, like the disciples, must pass from just hearing
them and doing some analysis and go on toward becoming disciples, that is
learners who follow Jesus in doing the will of the Father. Then the
parables will start to make sense in the larger framework that Jesus is
concerned about and brings about. We are all part of salvation history.
God is at work within us as we journey on in our faith. We have started by
listening, then we ponder over the words of Jesus and by persevering in
this endeavor we learn, that is, we become disciples (this means a
learner). Learners then become friends of Jesus and are invited to know the
mysteris of the kingdom of God.
Certain congregations and religious communities have a list of virtues they
practice, or frame the virtues within the vowed life. Others even have
systems of virtues. These are the acts of faith which help one to progress
in the way of discipleship. There are preliminary virtues, virtues of
progress, and finally, the consummate virtues of faith, hope, and love.
All virtues work together and help the other virtues to grow. Thus by
practicing one, we learn how to practice the others. We then become
familiar with them and familiarity is a trait that shows we are disciples
Parables are better lived out with the listening of the heart rather than
rationalized and analyzed. Jesus did the will of God whenever he talked
about it. His words and saving actions touch the whole person and enable
us to enter into who he is for us today. Jesus has truly blessed us with
his words, deeds, and presence. Amen.