Why Jesus teaches in parables

Fr Paul says that in our Gospel today, Matthew (13:10-17) quite cleverly slips in the question the disciples ask of Jesus ‘Why do you teach in parables?’. He believes there are two reasons Jesus does this.

Firstly, the use of stories and images is a great way of getting the message across… a story can stick in your mind for a long time after it has been told.

Secondly, Jesus uses parables because this issue of the Kingdom of God will be a difficult one to teach because the people at the time of Jesus were expecting a political and military figure who would ultimately expel the Romans from their land. However, that is not what Jesus came to do.

Jesus needs to build up the Kingdom of God, which is a kingdom of love, trust, forgiveness, generosity, acceptance, judgement and loyalty. Jesus knows that the best way to build the Kingdom of God, to get people to understand what the kingdom is about, is through the use of stories or parables.

In this Gospel, Fr Paul says we also see the contrast Matthew is writing about. Matthew is making the distinction between those who don’t listen and don’t understand (in other words the Jews) and contrasts them with those who do (the followers of Jesus). This is why he has included this passage from Isaiah in this particular Gospel and why we hear the blessing at the end ‘Happy your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear…’

For our prayer today Fr Paul invites us to reflect on our own lives and ask ourselves ‘How well do I listen and understand when God speaks to me?’