By Emily Hylden
A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew 13:1-16
1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell on a path, and the birds came and ate them up. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. 6 But when the sun rose, they were scorched, and since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 If you have ears, hear!”
10 Then the disciples came and asked him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 He answered, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance, but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 13 The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’ 14 With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah that says:
‘You will indeed listen but never understand,
and you will indeed look but never perceive.
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
and their ears are hard of hearing,
and they have shut their eyes,
so that they might not look with their eyes,
and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart and turn—
and I would heal them.’
16 “But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.”
It’s easy to identify those who have misinterpreted Scripture and misunderstood the gospel and mistaken what righteousness truly is, isn’t it?
Except that today and tomorrow’s readings from the Gospel of Matthew, covering the Parable of the Sower, challenge the confidence we may have in our own eyes and ears and powers of discernment. What confidence can we have that we are the disciples in this story, and not those who are blind and deaf since Isaiah’s time? What assurance have we that ours is the most enlightened understanding of history and faith, of all the Christians from all the ages past and areas around the globe? This certainty of superiority is rife in Western culture, and especially entrenched in American society and politics at the moment.
I wonder what humility might do for us in the face of such hubris. What might it benefit us to pray for eyes to see and ears to hear? If we have them already and are indeed righteous, clear-eyed disciples, all the better! If we have a log or even a speck that may challenge our perspective, who could remove it except God himself? If we have a great deal of courage, we might even pray for humility, though I recommend considering what sort of training and endurance might be required in order to effect that outcome.
The Rev. Emily R. Hylden resides with her priest husband and three sons in Lafayette, Louisiana. Find her podcasting at Emily Rose Meditations.
To receive a TLC Daily Devotional in your inbox each morning, click here.
Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
Church of the Province of South East Asia
Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville, Tenn.