15th Sunday of Ordinary Time (A)

This Sunday between the parable and the interpretation of the parable is a section that is quite difficult. Since it is in the optional long form to the gospel, usually the priest and deacon will skip it. But it contains powerful teachings for us. I would like to focus on it today[1].

The disciples ask Jesus why He speaks in parables. He answers that those who are closest to Him hear Him speaking candidly, but those who do not hear the simple messages of the parables demonstrate the fulfillment of a prophecy of Isaiah. Listen and you will not understand, look and you will not see. What is this all about? Are we doomed to never understand the Lord? Is Jesus trying to keep His message secret from us or from others? Is Jesus trying to keep people from receiving His salvation?

The solution to these questions comes from the source of the quotation, the sixth chapter of the Book of Isaiah. In this chapter the prophet has a vision of God sitting on His thrown and attended by the Seraphim, angels. Isaiah hears them singing Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts, and is convinced that he is going to die because he has no right to be in the presence of the Holy One. One of the angels then touches his mouth with a burning coal and declares that Isaiah's guilt has been purged.  Next Isaiah hears a voice calling out, Whom shall I send, who will go for us? Isaiah responds, Here I am, send me. It is right at this point that we have the passage that Jesus refers to in today's Gospel. The voice says to Isaiah, Make the mind of this people dull, and stop their ears, and shut their eyes, so that they may not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and comprehend with their minds, and turn and be healed. The meaning behind this is that the message of the prophet will result in the people knowing what they have to do, but avoiding doing it. By quoting this passage, Jesus is saying that many who hear the Word of God He proclaims will fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah. They will become hardened against the truth and more determined not to follow it.  Jesus wants them to turn to Him and be healed, but He knows that for many people, human nature will result in the fulfillment of the Isaiah’s prophecy. There is nothing like the truth to turn people on or turn people off. Twenty years ago there was a brilliant movie called A Few Good Men starring Jack Nicholson, Tom Cruise and Demi Moore. It was a drama about a military trial concerning an incident that took place at a marine camp resulting in the death of one of the soldiers under the command of Colonel Nathan Jessup, Jack Nicholson’s character. The movie is really remembered for one line.  When Jessup was forced to having to admit that he was not telling the truth, he yelled out at the young Lieutenant lawyer, Tom Cruise’s character, “You can’t handle the truth.”

Some people tend to become hardened against the truth. If you do not believe this, then try telling a pro-abortion advocate about unique chromosomes, heartbeats, the formation of the child within the mother, etc.  They will often respond, "I do not want to hear this." When some people hear the truth, they often justify their opposition by becoming even more adamant in it.
We have been called by the Lord to be His disciples. He calls us to love Him and love the people who are seeking Him with love that is both patient and understanding. At the same time we are also human beings who often don’t want to deal with the truth ourselves.  Moral choices are hard. They are demanding. But they are also liberating. We can do this.  We can be the people He calls us to be. We are close to Him. He is even closer to each of us, within us.  We can handle His truth.   

We ask God today to help us proclaim His Truth to others in ways that are full of His love. And we ask Him to give us the courage to live the truth that we are proclaiming ■

[1] 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time A, July 13, 2014. Readings: Isaiah 55:10-11; Responsorial Psalm 65:10, 11, 12-13, 14; Romans 8:18-23; Matthew 13:1-23.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris