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?
|Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant the Nihil Obstat ("Permission to Publish") for One Bread, One Body covering the period from December 1, 2014 through January 31, 2015.
†Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 30, 2014.