Again Jesus began to teach by the lake; but such a large crowd gathered about him, that he got into a boat and sat in it on the lake, while the crowd stood on the shore. He taught them many things through parables. In his teaching he said,
“Listen! The sower went out to sow. As he sowed, some of the seed fell along a path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some of the seed fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil; it sprang up immediately because it had no depth; but when the sun rose and burned it, it withered because it had no roots. Other seed fell among thornbushes, and the thorns grew and choked it, so it didn’t produce any grain. But some seed fell on good soil, grew and increased and yielded grain; some seed produced thirty times as much, some sixty, and some one hundred times as much.” And Jesus added, “Listen then, if you have ears.”
When the crowd went away, some who were around him with the Twelve asked about the parables.
He answered them,
“The mystery of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But for those outside, everything comes in parables, so that the more they see, they don’t perceive; the more they hear, they don’t understand; otherwise they would be converted and pardoned.”
Jesus said to them,
“Don’t you understand this parable? How then will you understand any of the parables?
What the sower is sowing is the word. Those along the path, where the seed fell, are people who hear the word, but as soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.
Other people receive the word like rocky ground. As soon as they hear the word, they accept it with joy, but they have no roots, so it lasts only a little while. No sooner does trouble or persecution come because of the word, than they fall.
Others receive the seed, as seed among thorns. After they hear the word, they are caught up in the worries of this life, false hopes of riches and other desires. All these come in and choke the word, so that finally it produces nothing.
And there are others who receive the word as good soil. They hear the word, take it to heart and produce: some thirty, some sixty, and some one hundred times as much.”
Today on the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, we are presented with an image of Jesus as a teacher. Thomas was a model teacher who believed that for a person to gain knowledge of the truth, one would need divine help so that God may move one’s intellect towards the truth. But the person must be open to the truth. Listening is vital. We are now a visual generation whose listening skills are underdeveloped. Gone are the days when people would gather around a storyteller, listening intently to riveting and inspiring stories and learning lessons from them. When Jesus told stories, people would gather around him to listen; yet there were those who refused to listen. So he taught in parables, taking common images of life, like the soil that receives the seeds, and using them to illustrate the deep things of God. The one who listens to God’s word learns the truth and is challenged to live it everyday. Jesus preached in a manner that required people to reflect on what they heard. Those who were open to the truth would have the truth revealed to them, but those who were not would have the truth hidden from them.
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