Gospel Matthew 13:1-23
“[H]e told them many things in parables.”
A good portion of Jesus’ teaching was done through parable, that literary device that seeks to make known or shed light upon something deeply mysterious.
Here a scenario is relayed to us that sees Jesus being inundated by large crowds. People from all around sought him out such that, in this instance, he had to board a boat, and push off shore so that his teaching could be heard by all who had gathered.
Interestingly though, he does not lecture the people on a distinct set of truths which must be believed in order that they would receive eternal life. Instead, he offers them a story that points to, and invites his listeners to engage with something mysterious.
The truth is that what is revealed by God in Christ is not simply a set of doctrines about God, but God himself, in the person of Jesus. This person, Jesus, God incarnate (in human flesh), cannot be reduced to a mere set of facts, or doctrinal propositions.
More than his teachings then, it was the person of Jesus himself that aroused so much interest. And when Jesus taught, he sought to invite his listeners into the mystery of his own life and love – into the life and love of the Trinity itself. He does not simply unfold a set of cold propositional dogmas which must simply be assented to. This is why Pope Benedict XVI began the first significant teaching document of his pontificate by proclaiming that “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon, and a decisive direction” (DCE, 1).
The parables of Christ invite us to engage with the Mystery. They steer us away from cold moralistic or hyper-intellectualised propositional formulations and remind us of the person who has entered human history and astounded us with an answer to our deepest longings.
Words of Wisdom
God cannot be reduced to an object. He is a subject who makes himself known and perceived in an interpersonal relationship. Right faith orients itself to open itself to the light which comes from God, so that reason, guided by love of the truth, can come to a deeper knowledge of God. The great medieval theologians and teachers rightly held that theology, as a science of faith, is a participation in God’s own knowledge of himself. It is not just our discourse about God, but first and foremost, the acceptance and the pursuit of a deeper understanding of the word which God speaks to us, the word which God speaks about himself, for he is an eternal dialogue of communion, and he allows us to enter into this dialogue.