October 29, 2012
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am taking the good news today from Matthew 13:10-15.
The disciples approached him and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He said to them in reply, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because ‘they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.’ Isaiah’s prophesy is fulfilled in them, which says: ‘You shall indeed hear but not understand, you will indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be converted and I heal them.'”
In the scriptures and in Qumran literature (Dead Sea Scrolls) the mysteries are used to mean God’s divine plan that can only be known when He chooses to reveal it. He had revealed His plan in Jesus; the kingdom of God was present in Jesus and in his way of living God’s will. The disciples had chosen to give up everything to follow Jesus. They listened to his every word day in and day out; they had their questions answered and their minds opened; they observed the ways in which his love was extended to all people; they experienced his forgiveness. They became richer in their faith and subsequently more obedience to God’s will.
The crowds came and went. They were dazzled by Jesus’ miracles of healing; they clamored for healing for themselves or loved ones. They listened but were often skeptical. They were not constant; they didn’t sacrifice to follow Jesus; they didn’t transform their lives. They were seeking out what Jesus could do for them, not what they could do to bring about the kingdom of God. So, instead of being enriched, they became impoverished spiritually.
This makes me think back to my friend who said he just didn’t get religion or faith. We have to try; we have to see with fresh eyes and hear with fresh ears instead of remaining locked within our old way of understanding. Jesus used stories to break through our usual ways of perceiving. He used them to make us think, to puzzle the meaning out for ourselves. He used them to make us look inward, to the spirit of God within us. Not outward to God in heaven somewhere, not outward to people or situations as the source of our troubles, our loneliness.
They key to me is that Isaiah said they we have to understand with the heart. We can’t intellectualize our way to understanding God. We have to feel His love; we have to feel His presence within us. We will only be converted by opening our hearts to Him. We will only be healed if we expose our wounds to Him, the emotional rubbish that lies deep in our inmost being.
I tend to try to know, to understand with my mind. I observe, read, think, analyze, judge and conclude with my mind. And nothing happens. It’s only when my heart is touched that I am converted, that I leap from seeking to knowing. It’s only when I open myself to God and to others that I can be healed and made whole. Then I can see and hear and understand. It comes from my heart, not my head. I think Jesus is telling me to follow my heart and I will discover riches beyond my imagining.
Mike: First I love reading this blog. It is enriching and beautiful. Thank you so much for taking the time to work through these passages. In response to today’s blog, I agree that understanding with our hearts is important, but Jesus also said to love Him with ‘all your heart, your MIND and your strength.’ The combination of the three is the most powerful and revelatory. In today’s world there are those who think that Christians base their faith solely on emotion rather than intellect, yet both should be true. My heart is fickle at best and yet I feel and believe with all my heart and, to your point, my heart must be open in order to truly understand. But my mind confirms His truth and that He is truth, intellectually. We are called to be able to ‘give a reason our faith’ and if we can not do that intellectually in today’s culture, credibility is undermined.
God bless and thank you!