Sunday, July 13, 2014

Reflection on Today's Gospel

"Is the point of the Lord's parables to make his message inaccessible and to reserve it only for a small circle of elect souls for whom he interprets them himself? Is it that the parables are intended not to open doors, but to lock them? Is God partisan--does he want only an elite few, and not everyone?

"If we want to understand the Lord's mysterious words, we must read them in light of Isaiah, whom he cites, and we must read them in light of his own path, the outcome of which he already knows. In saying these words, Jesus places himself in the line of the Prophets--his destiny is a prophet's destiny. Isaiah's words taken overall are much more severe and terrifying than the extract that Jesus cites. In the Book of Isaiah it says: "Make the heart of this people fat, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed" (Is. 6:10). Prophets fail: Their message goes too much against general opinion and the comfortable habits of life. It is only through failure that their word becomes efficacious. This failure of the Prophets is an obscure question mark hanging over the whole history of Israel, and in a certain way it constantly recurs in the history of humanity. Above all, it is also again and again the destiny of Jesus Christ: He ends up on the Cross. But that very Cross is the source of great fruitfulness...

"The failure of the Prophets, his failure, appears now in another light. It is precisely the way to reach the point where "they turn and God will forgive them." It is precisely the method for opening the eyes and ears of all. It is on the Cross that the parables are unlocked...

"Jesus' disturbing explanation of the point of his parables, then, is the very thing that leads us to their deepest meaning, provided--true to the nature of God's written word--we read the Bible, and especially the Gospels, as an overall unity expressing an intrinsically coherent message, notwithstanding the multiple historical layers."

--Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: Part One: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration (Doubleday, 2007, pp. 189--191)

No comments: