Meditation: Why did Jesus speak to people in parables? Like the rabbis of his time, Jesus used simple word-pictures, called parables, to help people understand who God is and what his kingdom or reign is like. Jesus used images and characters taken from everyday life to create a miniature play or drama to illustrate his message. This was Jesus' most common way of teaching. His stories appealed to the young and old, poor and rich, and to the learned and unlearned as well. Over a third of the Gospels by Matthew, Mark, and Luke contain parables told by Jesus.
Cyril of Alexandria (150-215 AD ), an early church teacher,
described the purpose of Jesus' parables: "Parables are word
pictures not of visible things, but rather of things of the mind
and the spirit. That which cannot be seen with the eyes of the
body, a parable will reveal to the eyes of the mind, informing the
subtlety of the intellect by means of things perceivable by the
senses, and as it were tangible." (COMMENTARY ON
THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 8.5.4)
Jesus' parable of the sower is aimed at the hearers of his word.
There are different ways of accepting God's word and they produce
different kinds of fruit accordingly. There is the prejudiced
hearer who has a shut mind. Such a person is unteachable and blind
to what he or she doesn't want to hear. Then there is the shallow
hearer. He or she fails to think things out or think them through;
they lack depth. They may initially respond with an emotional
reaction; but when it wears off their mind wanders to something
Another type of hearer is the person who has many interests or
cares, but who lacks the ability to hear or comprehend what is
truly important. Such a person is too busy to pray or too
preoccupied to study and meditate on God's word.
Then there is the one whose mind is open. Such a person is at all times willing to listen and to learn. He or she is never too proud or too busy to learn. They listen in order to understand. God gives grace to those who hunger for his word that they may understand his will and have the strength to live according to it. Do you hunger for God's word?
Secrets of the kingdom
Why does Jesus say that the secrets of the kingdom of God will be revealed to some while others will not be able to recognize nor understand the kingdom of God (Mark 4:11-12)? Origen (185-254 AD), an early church Bible scholar, comments on why Jesus makes a distinction between those who are ready to hear and understand his message with those who are not ready to hear nor understand:
"Lord Jesus, faith in your word is the way to wisdom, and to ponder your divine plan is to grow in the truth. Open my eyes to your deeds, and my ears to the sound of your call, that I may understand your will for my life and live according to it".
This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/