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The Discovery Channel

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Scriptural Readings: Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalm 65:10, 11, 12-13, 14; Romans 8:18-23; Matthew 13:1-23 or 13:1-9

My dear encountered couples:

The thrill of discovery is one of the greatest enjoyments of life. To find a four-leaf clover, an Indian arrowhead, an unexplored cave, to see a white deer, a mother raccoon with her little ones, the first flower of spring, whales and porpoises, all these can be thrilling and something remembered all through life. We enjoy the feeling of successfully accomplishing something on our own - like cooking your first meal, growing your own vegetables, building your own storage shed, making money with a yard sale, or putting together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

These might be considered discoveries and accomplishments of our bodies. There are also discoveries and accomplishments of the mind. It is a real thrill to arrive at the understanding of a mystery, the mental penetrating of something unknown or little understood. To search and discover the meaning of a riddle a person can be filled with a good feeling of pride and self-esteem. To learn something new and interesting each day helps us to broaden and mature more no matter how old we are.

Jesus knew all this. He knew that people not only enjoy the success of figuring out and discovering something new. He also knew that what we do on our own stays with us longer. That is why he taught in Parables. Let me try to explain.

The goal of education should be to bring out of a person what is already inside, to lead forth the knowledge and understanding that God already shares with each and every one of us. Have you ever noticed that after you’ve arrived at a new understanding of something, after you’ve said “Oh, I see what you mean,” you get a feeling that you knew it all the time? But you just weren't aware of it before. That is what education is supposed to do - make us aware of what is already contained in us.

It is better, though, that we are not spoon-fed all this knowledge. For if we are, we will never learn to eat on our own. We will never acquire the desire to seek and learn all that is available to us. When we are led, when we are tempted by a mystery, we are given the opportunity to continue on to the final discovery of the truth on our own. When you’ve watched a mystery movie, didn't you prefer to figure out "who done it" on your own? You felt good about yourself when you were right. But when someone tells you, "That guy with the innocent look on his face did it," it spoils the whole show and leaves you feeling empty.

Jesus knew this. That is why he spoke in parables. He told stories. Each story contains hidden meanings. Those who were interested in learning new things tried to figure out the meanings, and when they were successful they probably remembered them for years to come, possibly for the rest of their lives. Those who preferred to be spoon-fed the answers didn't get any. They probably weren't really interested and would have forgotten them anyhow. To be spoon-fed answers is to be kept mentally lazy.

If a student is interested in learning, all the teacher needs to do is plant a few ideas in his mind. The interested student takes it from there. Maybe a little more help now and then is needed. The good teacher knows when and how to give it. Jesus was trying to plant ideas in people's minds. Those really interested in learning the things of God took those ideas and thought about them until they arrived at the truth towards which they were led. The thrill of discovering them on their own gave them a feeling of accomplishment and capability. Then they knew they could go on and learn more. What people learn on their own will stick with them. Those not interested will never learn even if someone pours it down their throats.

Listen to what Jesus says in quoting Isaiah the prophet: "Sluggish indeed is this people's heart. They have scarcely heard with their ears, they have firmly closed their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn back to me and I should heal them." Then Jesus goes on to say to his disciples, "But blest are your eyes because they see and blest are your ears because they hear." The disciples were interested in what Jesus taught. They watched what he did and listened to what he said. They were among those considered as the good soil. For the seeds that Jesus sowed in their minds germinated and grew to maturity.

All in those crowds who heard the parables of Jesus and were really interested in learning the truths of God were that good soil in which his seeds were planted. Those who were more concerned with their own pleasures and riches were incapable of learning even if Jesus had spelled it out for them. Therefore, he spoke in parables, telling stories that would lead the interested person to personal discovery of many wonderful things, of many good ways of living a life of love for God and people.

I hope you are interested in what Jesus had to say. I hope you are interested in what he tries to say to you today and every day through the people and happenings in your life. For if you are interested, then you are that good soil who receives the seeds of knowledge and helps them to grow. You will bear a large yield of goodness. Read the words of Jesus in the gospels, think on them. Enjoy the ongoing discoveries of the unlimited knowledge of God. They are meant to lead you to happiness.


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