Some of us just don’t want to hear truth. Jesus called them “hard-hearted” in the long version of today’s gospel (Matt 13:1-23). But he also had a way to make them listen. If he spelt out clearly just how dumb and stupid they were, and how they were working against God’s plan by placing obstacles in the way of people’s spiritual journey, then they’d ignore him or possibly attack him. So instead he would tell stories. He had a special kind of story, called a Parable. It had a moral point to make, but did not attack anyone openly. Instead, one had to reflect on the story to find the underlying truth – as well as the identity of the real-life culprits being criticised (which just might be you and me).
For example, how do you tell the Pharisees that they are “hard-hearted” because they will neither listen to nor accept his teachings about the kingdom of God? Well, “There was a sower who went out to sow some seed…some fell on rocky ground…and it withered for lack of roots.” And later, Jesus explains his parable, saying in part, “The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of God without understanding it.” The Pharisees probably knew that he was talking about them; but there was nothing they could do about it, because it was all “hidden” within the parable; no direct accusations had been made, no names had been dropped. So, all they could do was burn and fume with anger.
Resistance to God’s call to change our ways is “hardness of heart.” A modern example would be resistance to the Church’s teachings on faith and morals (such as contraception, abortion and euthanasia,). Sometimes the seeds of the Church’s teachings just fall on rocky ground, or on the barren path of our hearts. The Evil One is very active today!
You and I are called to “sow” God’s word in our children, and to live out the values that Jesus “sowed” in us through his Church; but first we must open our hardened hearts and become true disciples by spreading the Good News- even it means telling stories to illustrate the points we’re trying to make.