The Rev’d Penny Body
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Reflection July 26th 2021
The Gospel Matthew 13 verses 16 and 17
16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell 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.
These two verses follow a question from the disciples as to why Jesus spoke to the people in parables – and he has replied that it is because the people have eyes but do not see and ears but do not hear or understand.
I expect we all have some idea about what it is like to see, read or listen to something and just not understand it. Maybe a complicated mathematical proof, maybe something spoken in an unfamiliar language, something that seems like a code to which we do not have the key, or maybe the behaviour of another person in a particular situation. We don’t understand sometimes because we have insufficient prior knowledge to build upon, sometimes because our own viewpoint stops us understanding different one, sometimes because we don’t have the code – the key to unlock a meaning – or in the case of a person’s behaviour – maybe we don’t have enough of a perspective on their thinking or experience to understand why they behave as they do.
I love parables. Some of you may have read some of my reflections called the “Parable of the Garden”. Parables are wonderful things – they take something that we know and use these familiar ideas to help us make connections with something unfamiliar, or different from our normal way of thinking, and so to better see and hear and understand.
So Jesus teaches in parables to help people hear and understand him.
But he says to the disciples – blessed are your eyes – and blessed are your ears – for they do already see and hear.
And somewhat puzzlingly, earlier in the chapter, Jesus also says that to the one who already has, more will be given. How shall we understand this? As we grow in our understanding of Jesus and the Christian way, as we draw closer to him in prayer and come to know him, gradually our eyes and ears are opened and we come to know him even more. It’s a wonderful circle – as we come to know him in small ways, so we are enabled to know him in ever deeper ways.
The closer we draw to him, the more our eyes and ears are opened and the more we do understand. The more is given.
And then the more prior understanding we have to build on as we tackle some of the more difficult questions that Jesus poses in our lives. And the more we understand of his love for all people and all creation, the more we read the bible – and see the world around us – through his lens of love, which is the key that unlocks the mystery of God. The more we know of his compassion and mercy, the more we are able to empathise and have compassion on those whose behaviour we don’t understand and begin to understand them better.
Blessed indeed are eyes that see and ears that hear – because through them we are led ever deeper into the riches of Christ’s love and purpose from before all time. Amen.
Collect for the 8th Sunday after Trinity
your Son left the riches of heaven
and became poor for our sake:
when we prosper save us from pride,
when we are needy save us from despair,
that we may trust in you alone;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.