Following the impulse of grace

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Mt 13:10-17

Then the disciples went up to Jesus and asked, ‘Why do you talk to them in parables?’ In answer, he said, ‘Because to you is granted to understand the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not granted. Anyone who has will be given more and will have more than enough; but anyone who has not will be deprived even of what he has. The reason I talk to them in parables is that they look without seeing and listen without hearing or understanding. So in their case what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah is being fulfilled: Listen and listen, but never understand! Look and look, but never perceive! This people’s heart has grown coarse, their ears dulled, they have shut their eyes tight to avoid using their eyes to see, their ears to hear, their heart to understand, changing their ways and being healed by me. ‘But blessed are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear! In truth I tell you, many prophets and upright people longed to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.

When we read today’s Gospel, we may find it difficult to understand why “to the one who has will be given, but from the one who has not will be taken away even what he has.” However, we can understand these words when we consider them in relation to love.

The mystery of love lies in the fact that it grows as we give it space and put it into practice; while it diminishes when we do not respond to love’s invitations. In the same way, the heart becomes increasingly filled with the Holy Spirit when we follow the promptings of grace; whereas it becomes cold and closed when we resist it or simply let it pass us by. In the latter case, instead of the heart becoming more and more capable of loving and finding it easier and easier to do God’s will, everything becomes heavy and we find it difficult to make an effort to obey the Lord concretely.

This cooling can go so far that we are no longer interested in knowing what God wants from us, and we remain caught up only in our own interests. This can easily happen when the religious abandon their vocations. They can become so indifferent that the fire that had called them to consecrate themselves totally to the Lord is extinguished or reduced to a tiny flame.

That is why it is so important that we do not neglect our way of following Christ and that we constantly strengthen ourselves through prayer, reception of the sacraments, study of the Word of God and good works. If we do this, our love will grow and God will add more and more. In other words, God’s love will be able to unfold widely in us, and the measure of our love will be able to grow, far exceeding our human capacity.

In today’s Gospel, the People of Israel is specifically mentioned. Jesus addresses this people, who have received so much from God. They had been chosen and blessed among all peoples, even before the coming of the Messiah, but even more so when Jesus, the Son of God, was sent to Israel. However, as the Gospel testifies, few were willing to accept this enormous grace. The hearts of the people were hardened, certainly even before the coming of the Lord. The prophecy of Isaiah that Jesus quotes here speaks of a dull heart and hard ears (cf. Isa 6:10). This points to a progressive hardening of the heart!

How can we apply these words to today’s reality? One example of this hardening is the de-Christianisation that is spreading rapidly in many nations. The more sin proliferates and the less the commandments of God are observed, the more hearts will become hardened to the gospel message, the more their ears will be closed and the less their spiritual eyes will see, to the point of spiritual blindness. The light of faith fades and, in its place, the spirit of confusion appears. Think, for example, of the absurd theories of gender ideology, which is being put on the political agenda in more than a few states. It is so far from the truth that any sensible person should question how it is possible to even consider such madness. But the blindness has reached such a level that the absurdity of this ideology is no longer perceived.

But how infinitely valuable is the light of faith! It enables us to hear and to see, and gives us the spirit of discernment: what comes from God and what does not come from Him, where is truth and where is error. Perhaps we are not sufficiently aware of the enormous grace of living in this light. Let us strive day by day so that this light is not dimmed in us, so that we can help others to encounter the One who said of himself: “I am the light of the world” (Jn 8:12).