Thursday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
(Jeremiah 2:1-3.7-8.12-13; Matthew 13:10-17)
Flannery O’Connor has been called the greatest American Catholic novelist. Yet her novels are seldom about Catholics. Rather they concern the working of grace in very peculiar Bible-belt Protestants. Once she was asked why she wrote about such strange characters. She answered that when people are near deaf, you have to shout.
Jesus responds similarly to the question, “Why do you speak to the crowd in parables?” People need such on-the-money stories to wake them up to God’s goodness. The parables proclaim that God is so generous he will pay laborers who work but an hour a full day’s wage. They say that God’s kingdom is such a treasure that it is worth making any sacrifice to attain. Unfortunately, in a world of diversions from home entertainment systems and iPhones Jesus’ message does not always get through.
Some people see parables as make believe. They say that since the Kingdom does not bring immediate gratification, it is not worth pondering, much less pursuing. But the parables have been validated by Jesus’ own experience. His eating with sinners became the search of the shepherd for the lost sheep. His crucifixion became the seed that dies in order to produce abundant life. Because of Jesus’ life witness the parables not only entertain us, they also move us to follow him.