Thursday, July 27, 2017

Thursday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Exodus 19:1-2. 9-11.16-20b; Matthew 13:10-17)

We think of parables as little stories that illustrate what Jesus is trying to teach.  They are like the vignettes a high school teacher used to tell to make a point.  Most of his students will remember the anecdote about the bank robber Willie Loman.  Asked once why he robbed banks, Loman famously replied, “…because that’s where the money is.”  Then the teacher told his students that they must decide what is most important in life and, like Willie Loman, go after it.

In today’s gospel passage, however, Jesus says that he uses parables to confuse his listeners: “’This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.’”  It is only right to ask, what gives?  The evangelist Matthew, writing perhaps fifty years after Jesus, knows that many people have already rejected the message of the gospel.  But even in Jesus’ time many follow him with no intention of heeding his call to repentance.  They merely want to see him work a wonder. For the first group Jesus death and resurrection will seem like a fantasy.  For the second his stories will sound so.

But, hopefully, it is not this way for us.  We believe that Jesus has the words of eternal life and want to follow his teachings.