St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Exodus 33:7-11;34:5-9,28 + Matthew 13:36-43
August 1, 2017
“‘Whoever has ears ought to hear.’”
In today’s Gospel passage Jesus offers a point-by-point explanation of the parable that He preached in the passage proclaimed a few days earlier in the cycle of Ordinary Time weekdays. The evangelists rarely offer us examples of Jesus explaining a parable, so today’s passage is insightful not only in terms of the parable’s content, but also in terms of Jesus’ method of using parables.
We might wonder, to start with, what the significance is of the evangelist telling us that it’s after “Jesus dismissed the crowds” that “His disciples approached Him” to ask for an explanation of the parable. This is an important distinction that the evangelist didn’t have to note for Jesus’ explanation to make sense. Perhaps the evangelist is highlighting the importance of petitioning God for deeper insight into His revealed Word.
Jesus explains the meanings of seven persons or things from the parable. This allegorical explanation of the parable is important because it’s in accord with the method of interpreting Jesus’ parables commonly found in the writings of the saints in the patristic and medieval periods of Church history. This method is often rejected today by scholars who offer their own theories about the interpretation of parables. It’s important to note that among those whom modern scholars criticize are not only canonized saints whose holiness is proven, but also—as we hear today—Our Lord Himself!