Sexagesima Sunday ~ The Chosen Few

Jesus speaks to the mulititude

“To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but to the rest in parables: that seeing, they may not see, and hearing, they may not understand.” — St. Luke viii. g.

These are very important words which we should lay deeply to heart. Their meaning opens out the more we study them, and we would do well to spend a little time in finding out whether we come under the condemnation or not. Let me try to assist you in your examination.

Our Lord was a personage that was constantly surrounded by crowds of men and women who were impelled towards Him by many and various motives. His fame had spread throughout the country, and He was regarded by all as a great man ; but all were not equally impressed as to the kind and extent of His greatness. Hence it was that some came out of pure curiosity, some to receive a favor, while a few we may believe were led to Him by a desire to learn from His lips a higher doctrine than any they had hitherto been taught.

Now, with such a motley gathering always around Him, our Lord could not but speak cautiously on subjects so new and difficult to be understood by His hearers. He was only carrying out His own command, “Give not that which is holy to dogs: neither cast ye your pearls before swine.” Our Lord in thus acting only did what was reasonable as well as merciful. He acted reasonably in that it would have been the height of folly for Him to use words above the native understanding of the majority, who would estimate His teaching as the babbling of one not wholly in his mind. He acted mercifully because he thereby freed them from the penalty attached to the nonfulfilment of their duty learned in these discourses; for not plainly being told the will of God, they could not be brought to account for any neglect in its carrying out. Our Lord says, “To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but to the rest in parables.” Here we have the antithesis “you” and “rest.” The “you” refers directly to the Apostles, and indirectly to all who are in the same condition of mind and heart as theirs. By the “rest” are to be understood those who are either antagonistic to the divine word, or who are too steeped in sin and ignorance of anything nobler than pandering to the wants of the body and the demands of the passions, to be prepared to receive the revelation that God makes of Himself and of our obligations to Him. Yes, brethren, the heart and the intellect must be in a suitable condition before we may expect to benefit from anything that God makes known regarding Himself or ourselves.

Man of his own natural powers cannot effect anything. In order for us to rise to the super natural, we need the assistance of the Holy Spirit, whose work it is to fill our minds with supernatural thought and desires, and with our individual cooperation to accomplish in us whatever God has designed from all eternity. The Apostle St. James tells us that “every best gift and every perfect gift is from above,” and surely there can be no more best and perfect gift than the divine whisperings of the Spirit of God. This is the reason why the vast mass of mankind in general, and Christians in particular, seem to have so little concern with the things pertaining to the soul. They seldom or never hear the voice of God or conscience, instructing them as to the means of salvation, or illuminating their minds for a clearer and larger grasp of the truths of our holy faith. They always appear to be stupid and indifferent on any subject not having a direct reference to the things of this life. This, brethren, betrays a sickly state of our spiritual nature. We who are born again by the waters of regeneration and nourished by the other sacraments of the Catholic Church, and possessing so many helps for attaining to a high degree of sanctity, should, if we use them rightly and persistently, rise day by day to a clearer and fuller perception of the divine mysteries, till we come after death to the perfect and complete vision of God in Paradise. There is no excuse for us. If we do not co-operate with the grace of God, then we shall share the lot of those of whom it is said, “But he that hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath.”

 

Five-minute Sermons for Low Masses on All Sundays of the Year
By the Priests of the Congregation of St. Paul, 1893

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