Over the last few weeks, we have heard parables from Our Lord in the Gospels. When asked why He spoke in parables, He has a very profound response:
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. (Matthew 13:11-15)
Normally, when anyone tries to get a point across, they try to say it in the most succinct and clear way possible. After all, people have short attention spans and we want to be mindful of their time. Our Lord challenges this notion by speaking in parables. Parables are not succinct and clear. They require the listener to engage with the story and think about how it applies. At the very least they need to be open to the message or they may not recognize the truth being given to them at all. The same can be said about most Scripture: we need an open heart in order to hear what God is telling us. Part of having an open heart is having a soul that is disposed to responding to God and living a holy life.
Our Lord does not want us merely to be passive participants in the faith. So many people treat it like that: they think that just showing up to church every Sunday and saying they have received their sacraments are enough. The sacraments are wonderful gifts from God and contain all the graces needed for all salvation. But in order to receive those graces, we need to be disposed to them. Our Lord gave us minds and He wants us to engage with Him and listen to Him. He wants us to pray and to dwell on the mysteries of the faith. That’s why Our Lord tells parables: so that we will dwell on His word and listen to Him. When we do, maybe we will be converted and healed as He said in this passage.