Why speakest Thou in parables?

10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. 14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. 17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. 18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. 20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. 23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (Matthew 13:10-23)

St. Theophan the Recluse writes that we “seeing see not, and hearing hear not, neither understand” the word of God because we our hearts are so strongly tethered to worldly concerns. Our hearts are waxed gross, our ears are dull of hearing, and we have closed our eyes… This is why it is so difficult to read the scriptures, to listen to the church services, and to say our prayers. We are, by our own free choice, entirely enslaved to earthly cares. But in the end, all these cares will pass away, and only heaven will remain. And we, being strangers to heaven, will be left out in the darkness…

But Our Lord gives us hope, saying, “therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” In other words, as Archbishop Averky of Syracuse explains, the parables make divine truths accessible to our earthly minds. If we attend to the Lord’s parables and attempt to live according to their teaching, then we will come nearer to the Lord and be enlightened by His grace. Gradually, then, we will grow closer to heaven, and will be able to understand the more sublime teachings of the Lord, and will find ourselves amid the guests at the heavenly banquet. Glory to our God!

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