Today’s reading: Matthew 13:1-23
Jesus himself describes what the parable of the sower means, so it is not necessary to recount that here. However, what is interesting is Jesus’ explanation of why he speaks in parables.
11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
Notice, here Jesus is speaking to his Apostles. They are already in communion with Jesus, in relationship to Him. To them will be given even more. We see that the parable is then explained to them and their understanding and therefore their relationship with Jesus is increased. But the crowds who the parables are taught to, they hear Jesus but they are not in relationship with him. They must give the parable their own interpretation. Hearing it, they must THINK they understand but Jesus says that this understanding is wrong and consequently they leave with less than that which they started.
This dynamic can be applied to our own lives today. Understanding comes not merely from our own study. Our personal understanding will be limited. It will be stunted by our own prejudices and bias. We will take from the parables and by extension the Bible what we want to hear. True understanding comes through the Apostles who have been graced with a deeper understanding and the authority to teach. If one wants to go deeper into relationship with the Lord one must go to the successors of the Apostles whose mission, given them by Jesus, is to teach the Gospel to every generation. It is the Apostles, and by extension the Church that it has been given, “to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven”.