But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable. And He said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God; but to those who are outside, all things come in parables, so that ‘Seeing they may see and not perceive, and hearing they may hear and not understand; lest they should turn, and their sins be forgiven them.’ ”
I was pretty good at getting in trouble in public when I was a kid. I liked to test the boundaries, and I thought that I could use my mother’s avoidance of embarrassment to get away with things. At home, she certainly would call me out on my bad behavior without any cause for shame. In front of others, she would be much more reserved, and she always spoke the same way. She would not tell me in English that I was heading for trouble once we got home, and there was a good reason for that. She did not want anyone to know. For her, that was a private matter. She would tell me in Spanish what she wanted me to hear, and she would do so quietly. Those around us might not have known what she was saying, but I did.
The parables in which Jesus spoke were targeted speech. Those stories were meant for specific ears to hear. Although it seems sensible to think that God would want everyone to learn and know those lessons, and I think He would love that outcome, the reality is that many will reject them. Said plainly, those nuggets of treasure are not meant for those who will trod on them. Like Jesus said more than once, those parables are for those who have the ears to hear them. They are for those who have the receptive hearts to understand that language. It really is like a foreign tongue, one which must be taught by the Holy Spirit. God reveals that language to those He can trust with the value in those words.
The truths in Jesus’s parables sometimes can pierce the heart and bring conviction we might rather not face. The reflection not of whom we strive to be but of whom we are at the moment can be tough to see. However, we must count it a blessing that the message gets through to us at all. It means that there is hope for a continually changing heart within us. It means that God has found us worthy of sharing his message. He trusts that we will invite its work to be done in us. Let the parables of Christ tell the story of your faults and flaws, and use what you learn to change the narrative. Father, thank You for seeing the promise in us to trust us with these privileged lessons, and bring their work to completion in us.