Homily: Matthew 13: 11… 17

TO YOU IS GIVEN THE POWER TO KNOW THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. The art of communication is a high acquisition that ever one does well to strive after. Jesus possessed it in a unique measure. He is, after all, the Word of God made flesh and dwelt among men and women who were heirs to a literary tradition that includes some of the most sublime texts of law, narrative and poetry. The message he preached was a challenge to human language in that it tells of the most mysterious of realities: the nature of God, his guidance of the world, his plan of salvation, the kind of virtues that lead to true and eternal life, the evil of sin, forgiveness and love. Our Lord himself, even though eminently suited for teaching these and other related matters, felt hampered often in his presentation of them.

The obstacles he encountered did not derive from any limits of his preaching; they were due to the deeply rooted resistances located in the hearts of many of his hearers. Communication considered as an event includes two complementary phases. One, the more active mode is the art of expression and articulation of a message; the other is a receptive capacity, and this too can be learned and cultivated. Only when both these aspects are effectively operative does human communication succeed. Thus all successful acts of communication are the result of a collaboration, a giving out and a taking in of some message.

Jesus speaks in today's Gospel text of the receptive element involved in his carrying out the mission to instruct the people of God in the ways of salvation. His chosen disciples had noted that he taught in parables that were often too subtle for his audience to grasp, themselves included. They were eager enough in their desire to understand him that they followed up with questions concerning the meaning of his enigmatic language. Our Lord patiently explained to them the proper interpretation so that the hidden meaning was brought out in such a way they could grasp his intent. But he did not provide such explanations for everyone; others were left in their perplexity and ignorance. He saw clearly that they lacked the desire to discover his message so as to be guided by it. The problem was the basic disposition of their soul. Until they displayed an earnestness in the pursuit of God's will and a greater willingness to question their own values and attitudes, he considered them unworthy to be exposed to saving knowledge of the mysteries of heaven. In spiritual matters as in material affairs, our Lord understood the workings of that natural process that assures that the rich get richer and the poor become poorer. Cooperation with grace alone can reverse the relentless operation of this tendency.

Today's Gospel, confronts each of us with the challenge of readying our heart so as to be receptive to the revelations of the mysteries so essential to our true and eternal good. We do well to examine our self to determine our dispositions. How committed are we to follow God's will and the revelation of divine truths wherever they lead us? Is there anything in our life that we are so concerned for that it makes us deaf to the voice of God and blind to the light of Christ? We know from the example of the apostles and of the saintly friends of God that, on a sudden, fidelity to our Lord can require us to submit to loss of goods, to anguish, to pain, humiliation. But we know too that if we make it our concern to be among those who seek the mercy of God in prayer and sincerity of life, we will be given the grace Jesus bestowed on his chosen ones to whom he said: TO YOU IS GIVEN THE POWER TO KNOW THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. The knowing he speaks of here is a practical knowledge of the heart. It is the knowledge that comes from faith in the Lord Jesus. The Eucharist we receive at this altar is a pledge to each of us that our trust in him will not be in vain. Rather it will give rise to that life with the Father of lights that is the joy of all those to whom it is given even now to KNOW and to love THE MYSTERIES OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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Abbey of the Genesee

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