“Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.”
I can’t help imagining Jesus suppressing a little smile at this response. He’s just finished a string of parables about the Kingdom of God: the sower, the weeds among the wheat, the treasure found in a field, the pearl of great price, the net cast into the sea catching fish of every kind.
Have you understood all this? Yes, they say, without hesitation. Well, hardly. The whole point of parables is that they are open-ended and give fresh meanings over time, as we bring life experience to bear on them. We can’t say we’ve ever completely understood a parable, because it’s not meant to be understood, in the sense of complete comprehension. But, because we don’t know what we don’t know, we can think we understand.
And, of course, as far as the things of God are concerned, we don’t—at least completely. Which is why parables are so fitting in conversation about God. It’s fair to say we may have begun to understand.
But Christian faith is not just about understanding, at least in the intellectual sense. Isn’t it more a sense of identity and a feeling of attraction? A sense that we belong to Christ and Christ belongs to us? And a kind of gravitational attraction to the mystery of Christ?A kind of gravitational pull toward that which we cannot clearly see or comprehend, yet is something both alluring and necessary.
To seek understanding is a good thing, but it’s not everything. The larger quest is more about giving ourselves up to the attraction of Christ’s glory, as I believe Fr. Benson put it. It is to be drawn to that pearl of great price being formed within us. It is to be drawn to the treasure buried in the depths of our hearts—and to the one who put it there in the first place. It is to give ourselves up to the attraction of that glorious seed planted in the soil of our hearts—and, indeed, to the one who sowed the seed, to the one who is glory.
“Have you understood all this?” he says…
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