Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Homily for July 21st, 2016: Matthew 13:10-17.

          “To anyone who has, more will be given, and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Those words from today’s gospel reading  seem terribly unfair, don’t they? To understand what Jesus is saying, we must note first that he speaks in the passive: “more will be given;” and “what he has will be taken away.” As I have told you before, that is what Bible scholars call “the theological passive.” It is a way of saying the God will give more to anyone who has, without actually pronouncing the word “God,” which was forbidden to Jews; and that God will take away from anyone who has not.

          Even when we have understood this, however, we are still left with the seeming injustice. What Jesus is saying is this. Those who open themselves in faith and hope to Jesus’ message of God’s love and salvation quickly grow in understanding of the message. Those who close themselves to the message, demanding some “sign” – a dramatic proof which will compel them to believe – are unable to understand the message, and forfeit the offer of salvation.

          Teachers see something similar in the classroom all the time. Students who work hard, do their homework, and listen closely, grow rapidly in understanding. Those who are lazy, or think they know it all already, quickly fall behind and, over time, understand little or nothing. This is not a question of justice or injustice. It is simply the way things are.

          Jesus’ concluding words, “Blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear,” are his grateful tribute to those who have opened the minds and hearts to him. Remembering that the word “blessed” also means “happy,” we pray:

          “Lord, if today we hear your voice, harden not our hearts.”