Matthew 13:10-17 10 Then the disciples came and asked him, "Why do you speak to them in parables?" 11 He answered, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 13 The reason I speak to them in parables is that 'seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.' 14 With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says: 'You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. 15 For this people's heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn-- and I would heal them.' 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 Truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.
1. The fact that the disciples received an interpretation of the parable explains their privileged position.
2. The truth about the kingdom of heaven is ‘secret’, and is perceived only by those to whom it is given. The experience of the others has already been predicted in Isaiah’s terrible prophecy about people who are unable to grasp the truth and to respond and find healing.
3. We should not think that the parables are given in order that some people may not understand which concludes that God has chosen some people to be enlightened and has deliberately left others in the dark. We should focus on the positive blessing of God’s gift of knowledge to a few who will proclaim it to the others.
4. Modern thought is likely to find the causes for people’s failure to absorb God’s word in psychology, environment, formative influences and the like but in the ancient world they were likely to be seen in more personal terms.
5. Where there are insiders and outsiders it is always possible for an outsider to become an insider. The object of Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of heaven was that people should repent and become insiders.
We are living in a noisy world where internal as well as external silence has become very rare. We are preoccupied with so many things that our hearts and minds are unsettled to concentrate on God’s word. We hear the word of God so many times, we come to meet Jesus in the Eucharist at least once a week, but have we managed to hear the word of God? Have we seen Christ or at least experienced Him once?
The Gospel of Matthew – R.T France
Matthew and the Margins – Warren Carter