Thursday, July 27, 2017

Trying to Understand the Parables of Jesus

A few years ago I took it upon myself to begin studying St. Thomas Aquinas and his proofs for the existence of God. The one proof that really caught my attention and gave me extreme difficulties in understanding it was the "prime mover" argument. Basically, and poorly explained by this simple man, it states that everything is put into motion by something else. If everything was put into motion by something else we should be able to trace this "movement" back to an unmoved mover or a prime mover - a being that began the movement but was not moved itself by another force. We call this prime mover, God. (My apologies to Thomistic Scholars!)

As I contemplated this concept in my apartment I walked around tossing a tennis ball up in the air and catching it. I did this for about two hours. As I would throw the ball into the air I would say, "I am the mover of this ball. I have put this ball into motion by my own power. Yet nothing is moving me but myself." The confusion set in and this should explain why it took hours. These were two hours of basically calling myself god. I was thinking of myself as the prime mover. Not until a single moment of grace did I hear the question in my heart, "Who put you into motion?" The answer was clear. Then I wondered why He had let me go on that long! I guess I simply wasn't ready for it yet but it sure felt good when it finally hit home.

In today's Gospel Jesus' disciples ask Him why He speaks to the people in parables. They want to know why He doesn't speak plainly as He does with them. It appears as though the disciples are taking Jesus to task for keeping secrets or veiling His teachings. In reality Jesus is very much unveiling His teachings and revealing them in a simple way hoping the crowd will "get it". He is like a school teacher who searches for ways to explain complex things in simple terms so that the students will "get it". Parables are simplifications not complications. They are designed to address spiritual truths by way of physical realities. They concern the things that they and we are very familiar with - parties, weddings, cooking, growing, earthly treasure and so on.

However, sometimes the hearer is just not ready for the teaching. If you are like me you have had many epiphanies while reading a Scripture passage that you know you have read probably a hundred times before. Yet it is that one hundred and first time that really smacks you between the eyes. It isn't that the teaching changed, its simply that you and I weren't ready for it at that time in our life.

We should not be jealous that others get it and we don't. Nor should we boast when we get it and others don't. Rather we should be praying for the grace to "get it" always or at least as much as God wills!

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