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Ashley McKinlessJuly 28, 2023
Photo by Kevin Butz on Unsplash

A Reflection for Friday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Find today’s readings here.

The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word,
but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word
and it bears no fruit (Mt 13:22).

In today’s Gospel, Jesus has just told the crowd about the sower and the seeds and the different types of soil, and the disciples asked him why he speaks in parables. Jesus gives what, to my mind, is a rather harsh answer. He speaks in parables to the crowds because they aren’t yet ready for his message of salvation—“they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes.” He then explains to the disciples the meaning of the rocky ground, the thorny path, the rich soil. I have always wondered: Why can’t Jesus just explain this meaning to the crowd, too, in a way they are ready to hear? Why do the disciples get this privileged insight?

Then I think back to my 15-year-old self. For many, your teenage years are nothing if not thorny. I never doubted at the time that my parents loved me, but I’m not sure that knowledge bore much fruit. And no words or explanations would have convinced me that I was all that lovable.

But what did eventually convince me was time, presence, relationship. And that’s what the disciples have with Jesus. He doesn’t explain the parables to them because they need to be convinced of his message. His message is one of love and that can’t be explained.

I imagine many in the crowd walked away confused and concerned about the business of life. But maybe something about that parable stuck with them, and they decided to go see this Jesus fellow again, and again. And in time, it wasn’t about the words or the strange stories, but the person. That is what it means to be a disciple, and it’s what we all have the privilege to do.

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