are you sluggish or curious?
"You do not understand this parable? How then are you going to understand other figures like it?" —Mark 4:13
Jesus wants us to take ownership of our understanding of our faith. He wants us to ask questions as did the apostles (see Mk 4:10), to study, to probe deeply and persistently until we understand the meaning. Jesus tells parables so we might have the chance to ponder the Word, nourish it, and make it grow.
When asked why He only taught the crowds in parables, Jesus quoted Isaiah 6:10 (see Mk 4:12). Jesus knows that the hearts of people in the crowd, while interested in His teaching, are by nature "sluggish," their ears "dull," and their eyes closed (see Is 6:10). A parable resembles a riddle. It is designed to make its hearers think, ponder, and reflect until either the meaning of the parable is understood or the hearers dismiss it from their minds. Those who hear the parable will need to ask questions of those more advanced in their faith in order to better understand the meaning.
The hearers of the parable have a choice if they do not understand it. They can be like the rocky ground (Mk 4:16), dismiss the parable, and thus miss out on a chance to grow in faith. In so doing, their hearts become ever more sluggish to the Lord's message, thereby fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 6:10. On the other hand, the hearers can be good soil which receives the Word, studies it, learns it, and bears a rich harvest (Mk 4:20).
Jesus is teaching you in parables. Will you sluggishly dismiss them, or will you seek and find their meaning?
Prayer: Jesus, make me docile to Your teaching and zealous to understand it, live by it, and spread it.
Promise: "Their sins and their transgressions I will remember no more." —Heb 10:17
Praise: St. Thomas was blessed with a superior intelligence. He spent his entire life in the ministry of the Word of God. "How different the man who devotes himself to the study of the law of the Most High!" (Sir 39:1)
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 30, 2014
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