Thursday, July 21 ~ Sixteenth Week in the Season of Ordinary Time
Saint Lawrence of Brindisi, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Holy Gospel: Matthew 13:10-17 The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Why do you speak to the crowd 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 prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall 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 hearts and be converted and I heal them. “But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to 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.”
Meditation: Saint Augustine of Hippo once said: “I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe.” Both faith and understanding are gifts of the Holy Spirit that enable us to hear God’s word with clarity so we can know God better and grow in the knowledge of his love and truth. Jesus, however, had to warn his disciples that not everyone would understand his teaching. The prophet Isaiah had warned that some would hear God’s word, but not believe, some would see God’s actions and miracles, and remained unconvinced. Ironically some of the greatest skeptics of Jesus’ teaching and miracles were the learned scribes and Pharisees who prided themselves on their knowledge of scripture and the law of Moses. They heard Jesus’ parables and saw the great signs and miracles which he performed, but they refused to accept both Jesus and his message. How could they “hear and never understand” and “see but never perceive”? They were spiritually blind and deaf because their hearts were closed and their minds were blocked by pride and prejudice.
Prayer: O God, who for the glory of your name and the salvation of souls bestowed on the Priest Saint Lawrence of Brindisi a spirit of counsel and fortitude, grant, we pray, that in the same spirit, we may know what must be done and, through his intercession, bring it to completion. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: There is only one thing that can open a closed, confused, and divided mind – a broken heart and humble spirit! The word disciple means one who is willing to learn and ready to submit to the wisdom and truth which comes from God. Psalm 119 expresses the joy and delight of a disciple who loves God’s word and who embraces it with trust and obedience. “Oh, how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation” (Psalm 119:97-99). God can only reveal the secrets of his kingdom to the humble and trusting person who acknowledges their need for God and for his truth. The parables of Jesus will enlighten us if we approach them with an open mind and heart, ready to let them challenge us. If we approach God’s word with indifference, skepticism, and disbelief, then we, too, may “hear but not understand” and “see but not perceive.” God’s word can only take root in a humble and receptive heart that is ready to believe. If we want to hear and to understand God’s word, we must listen with openness, humility, reverence and faith – nothing else will suffice. Do you believe God’s word and do you submit to it with trust and reverence?