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July 16, 2023: 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

It’s not uncommon to hear people complain that we Catholics often fail in communicating our faith. Fair enough. We can and should improve there. But it’s interesting to notice that Jesus himself was implicitly accused by his disciples of a similar failure. This week in Matthew’s gospel they are perplexed that he speaks to the crowds in ambiguous parables. The Lord’s riddles leave many people more confused than before. He responds by pointing out that his parables have an intentional dual purpose: to hide (for some) and to reveal (for others) his Gospel: “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted” (Matthew 13:11). Is Jesus being unnecessarily difficult, obscurantist, or, worse, elitist?

No. We have to remember that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge lie hidden in him (c.f., Col. 2:3). He is the word of God from heaven to be planted in the earth of our humanity to bear great fruit. However, like a lover delicately pursuing his beloved, we’re dealing with a relationship, not new data. When we aren’t willing to personally accept Jesus into our lives, the “info” of the Gospel will simply not make sense to us. It’ll seem bizarre, esoteric, or like incoherent religious-speak. But when we are willing to accept Jesus into our lives, everything else starts to make sense. When others don’t understand the Church or the Lord, let’s be patient. Love is patient. Sometimes it has to hide before it is revealed.

— Father John Muir



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