Daily Reflections

Matthew 13:10-17

The disciples were baffled as to why the Lord spoke to the people in parables. They were stretched and challenged by this new teaching. Jesus’ teaching caused them to think, to use their minds – in this he was different from the religious teachers they were used to hearing! They were perplexed and confused. The originality and depth of Jesus’ parables tested them profoundly. They weren’t being difficult or obtuse – they just didn’t comprehend.

And so in today’s Gospel Jesus seizes the opportunity to lead them further into the meaning of his parables. He begins by affirming his disciples. In effect he says: ‘You understand much more than you know.’ Or in other words: ‘You have received much more than you can currently understand.’ What was it they had received? They had received knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven. If they didn’t grasp their meaning now, a time would come when they would. What was important was their attitude, their disposition, in short their hearts.

The Lord addresses an attitude that he sees as spiritually destructive. It poses a threat to people’s ability to receive his teaching, preventing them from being receptive and open to the Holy Spirit. Oddly it often afflicts those who are very involved in their faith. Jesus, quoting Isaiah, describes such people as those who see but do not see, who hear but do not hear. He laments and grieves over this paradox: they hear but never understand; they see but never perceive.

Why is this? Why are some afflicted in this way? It is because their hearts have become hard. Deep within they refuse to accept God’s teaching. They have become proud, stiff-necked and resistant. A hard heart is an unteachable heart and in this state unreachable. It is only the Holy Spirit who can reach it. The Spirit heals such hearts. A hard heart melts as it responds to the teaching and leading of the Spirit.

We should not judge or condemn, for we need to recognize that it’s easy for our own hearts to become hard. Each of us can find ourselves resisting the Spirit. Our challenge is to ensure that our hearts are open and receptive to his work in our lives.

Holy Spirit, open my heart to your teaching. Holy Spirit, grant me the humility to root out the sin that hardens hearts and the pride that resists your grace and love. Holy Spirit, heal my heart.

Jeremiah 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13  •  Psalm 35(36):6-11
Matthew 13:10-17

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