– Monday of the 17th Week in Ordinary Time –
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” [Matthew 13:31-32]
In today’s gospel Jesus tells us two parables on the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus refers to the kingdom of heaven being like a mustard seed, but he also says later on in Matthew 17:20 that if our faith is as small as a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for us. Our faith takes time to foster and, until it does, it can seem small and potentially ineffective. Our faith is more than meets the eye. Once fostered however, the payoff is more beautiful than we could conceive; we flourish like a tall tree and become a shelter for others, just like the mustard seed that grows into a tree in today’s gospel.
In the parable of the yeast, we can see how faith, like yeast, is the active ingredient in building up the kingdom of heaven. It must seep into every part of our lives; the parts we’re excited about as well as the parts that we try to hide. Jesus is not content with separate parts of us; the parts presented best, or the parts we might give over to him once a week on Sundays. He wants all of us and, in exchange, he gives all of himself for us, “without holding anything back” St John Chrysostom tells us.
The gospel ends with the explanation of why parables are used: to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet, “I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.” Jesus desires to hide nothing from us. He uses parables because he is a good teacher. But he is more than a teacher, he is the ultimate fulfilment of our very being, and he desires union with us in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus make our faith humble, yet help it to grow and seep into every area of our lives. Amen.
by Emma Fradd
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