Grace to you!
I reflect on two of the eight of the Lord’s parables documented in the Gospel of Matthew 13. Namely, the mustard seed and the leaven.
The parable of the mustard seed (Mt 13:31-32) and the leaven (Mt 13:33) tell us something profound about the Kingdom on earth and the manner of its growth. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown (1997) suggest that the one (mustard seed) emphasizes outward growth of the Kingdom, and the other (leaven) focuses more on inward growth.
The Gospel documents that the seed is the smaller of all grains. Biblical experts tell us this must not be interpreted as meaning that the seed is actually the smallest of all seeds because it is not. But that the seed is comparably small. Also, in the culture where it was told, it was a usual metaphor to use when speaking of small things. Yet, comparably, the growth of that seed exceeds most of its kind as its six to twelve feet high tree, and its rich and full leaves serve as a home for all types of birds. Though this growth begins within, inward, it is manifested outside so others can see it. The Lord tells us our light must shine, so seeing our good works, people can give glory to God (Mt 5:16).
Consider the power of God's Word sown in the hearts of people. Visualize the Church in its humble beginnings in Jerusalem. Imagine what has become of this Church. Like that mustard shrub, the Church is where the birds of all kinds (meaning, all peoples and cultures), come and find spiritual home and rest.
The growth orchestrated by God's Word, which the parable of the mustard seed speaks of is evident to others. The world begins to notice it. It could be growth in numbers where parishes and dioceses start to grow. It could be a wider spread where the Church is planted in different parts of the world with more parishes, vocations, organizations, religious organizations, religious associations, etc. All these are the testimony of growth that the mustard seed parable seems to emphasize. This growth follows from a more personal, individual, or inward kind.
At an inward level, or what I call a personal level, which the leaven parable seems to emphasize, think of what happens when we hear God's Word. It may be a phrase or a word. It may be just watching the Mass or being present when Baptism is celebrated. Or even the witness of life of another believer whom we met. Without knowing it, the Word transforms us from within in a way we can’t even imagine. Inner healing begins to take place. Joy fills our heat as it becomes more and more a heart of flesh than a heart of stone. I have seen people’s lives changed in ways one would not imagine by the power of an encounter with God's Word. A gentle encounter with God's Word in worship, in the written text, or by a simple example of believers' lives. You may have seen this miracle of renewal too.
The Word of God, the Gospel of Christ, is powerful. No one encounters it without some seed sown in the heart. It germinates and grows within and outwardly, in ways the person won't imagine so others can see. Consequently, it blooms in the family, community, and beyond to different parts of the world. It is the powerful working of grace.
May God’s Word continue to minister to our needs. May the Spirit renew the face of the earth and lead to fruitfulness. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Monday Ordinary Time Week 17: Jer 13:1-11; Mt 13:31-35]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.