I still remember being in high school and having to analyze poetry. I’d read a poem about a bird perched on a branch. And I’m like, “It’s a poem. About a bird. Sitting on a branch.” And that wasn’t the point-- the point was, the bird was symbolic of this, and the branch was symbolic of that, and there was a reference to this thing over here---- but I couldn’t grasp it, even after someone explained what I was supposed to be understanding.
We’re like that as well. We might ask for graces all day long, but if we’re not in a spiritual place where we’re able to absorb them, they bounce off of us, like rain bounces off of a rock, rather than being a nicely-tilled garden bed where the rainfall allows plants to sprout and grow.
So I expect that a lot of it was like that as well. Yeah, Jesus didn’t explain everything to everyone at the time. He gave the parables to a large number, interpreted some of them aloud, and personally interpreted others for a smaller number. But even if he had spelled out everything for everyone— it wouldn’t necessarily have made a difference, if their hearts weren’t receptive to not only mentally comprehend it, but to physically make a difference in their own lives.
Suppose I come from ten generations of people who barely scrape by, and my kids are dirty and ragged and ignorant of both book-learning and religious learning. When I’m judged on how I raised my kids, I’ll be judged in one way. Now, suppose I come from ten generations of solid, middle-class people, but I have a drug or gambling addiction, and my kids are dirty and ragged and I’ve neglected their education, both secular and religious. How will I be judged? Now, suppose I come from ten generations of affluent people, and I’m just flat-out lazy, and I squander all my possessions, and my kids are dirty and ragged and ignorant. How will I be judged then? Now, suppose I come from ten generations of clergy who tell families how to be families, and God himself tells me, “This is how you raise your kids to be the people I created them to be!” and I don’t do it, how will I be judged then?
So-- in a way-- it was also a mercy to them, to not have full cognizance of what they were rejecting, or the opportunity to willfully reject a great grace from God that has been rarely offered throughout all of history.