Thursday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Jeremiah 2:1-3.7-8.12-13; Matthew 13:10-17)
The storyteller is a very popular motif of New Mexican sculpture. The image is usually an indigenous woman with children clinging to her from every side. Her mouth is open as she relates a tale of her youth. Curiously, however, the children are not paying much attention to the storyteller’s words. Rather they seem more intent on frolicking. In today’s gospel Jesus has similarly just told a large crowd a story that is called a parable. The people likewise did not heed what he was saying.
The disciples now question Jesus about why he uses parables if the people are not going to catch his meaning. He answers that the people do not understand his parables not because the stories are inscrutable but because the people themselves do not appreciate who is speaking to them. From all Jesus has done among them – his multiple healings and expulsions of devils – they should realize that he is the one whom God has sent into the world. Not believing in him, his parables become no more for them than cartoons of our culture for children to watch on Saturday morning.
Parables are rich in meaning. Like the deposits of gas and oil beneath the earth’s surface they can be mined again and again for high yields of truth. But to take full advantage of them we must recognize that their source, Jesus, is not like any other storyteller. No, he is the Son of God sent to us to reveal the wisdom that yields eternal life.