If your spiritual life is anything like mine, it often seems like God still speaks in parables. We often wonder what is the right direction to go in a given situation. We ponder why bad things happen to good people. We puzzle over the meaning of natural disasters, civil unrest, wars and terrorism. We often search for the meaning of life, only to be frustrated in our attempts time and time again. Just as the disciples asked Jesus why he spoke to the crowds in parables, so we too might ask why God seems to speak in so many incomprehensible ways every day.
I wish I could give you an answer for all that. All I can say is that traditional spiritual wisdom tells us that we do not have the ability to see the events of our lives in the context of the “big picture” that God is part of by his very essence. What we know about life, our world, and the events that surround us is so miniscule compared with the knowledge of everything and everyone and every time that is the mind of God. The answers to all these puzzling things will not be ours this side of the Kingdom of God. All that we can really hope for is that when we come to the Beatific Vision in heaven, we too will be able to understand things with the mind of God himself.
Having said that, there are things that we can know because we are people of faith. We know that God is at work in our world because our faith reveals miraculous events all the time. The sick are healed, good things happen, areas destroyed by natural disaster or civil unrest are rebuilt, lives of the faithful are lived with beauty and grace; all of this because we have faith. Those without faith would never see these things, or if they did would not think much of them or see them as the beautiful hand of God at work in our crazy world. Things happen all the time for which we cry out “thank God!” and we know that we are blessed to see them. Because of our faith, we can make sense of some of the incomprehensible events of our world. And we know that Jesus is speaking to us, too, when he tells the disciples:
“Blessed are your eyes, because they see,
and your ears, because they hear.
Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people
longed to see what you see but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”
This verse has special meaning for me. Last summer, when I was doing my hospital chaplaincy, my group would often puzzle about all the horrible things we had seen and been part of. But when one of my fellow students brought in this very Gospel reading for reflection one morning, we realized all the really wonderful things we had heard and seen in the midst of the pain and sorrow we had experienced with our patients. As we come to the Eucharist today, then, maybe we can all thank God for the good things he has revealed to us through faith.