PARABLES OF THE MUSTARD SEED AND THE YEAST
Gospel of Monday 17th week in Ordinary Time Year A
Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds. “The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’”
He spoke to them another parable. “The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.”
All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, to fulfill what had been said through the prophet: I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world.
Gospel Commentary from the Navarre Bible, Commentary to the Gospel of St. Matthew (with permission).
The mustard seed;
- 31-32 Here, the man is Jesus Christ and the field, the world. The grain of mustard seed is the preaching of the Gospel, and the Church, which from very small beginnings will spread throughout the world.
- The parable clearly refers to the universal scope and spread of the Kingdom of God: the Church, which embraces all mankind of every kind and condition, in every latitude and in all ages, is forever developing, in spite of obstacles, thanks to God’s promise and aid.
- 33 The leaven
- This comparison is taken from everyday experience: just as leaven gradually ferments all the dough, so the Church spreads to convert all nations.
- The leaven is also a symbol of the individual Christian.
- Living in the middle of the world, and retaining his Christian quality, he wins souls for Christ by his word and example: “Our calling to be children of God, in the midst of the world, requires us not only to seek our own personal holiness, but also to go out onto all the ways of the earth, to convert them into roads that will carry souls over all obstacles and lead them to the Lord. As we take part in all temporal activities, as ordinary citizens, we are to become leaven acting on the mass” (St. Josemaria, Christ is passing by, 120).
- 34-35 Revelation, God’s plans, are hidden (cf. Mt 11:25) from those who are not disposed to accept them.
- The evangelist wishes to emphasize the need for simplicity and for docility to the Gospel. By recalling Ps 78:2, he tells us, once more, under divine inspiration, that the Old Testament prophecies find their fulfilment in our Lord’s preaching.
Dear brethren in Christ, the MUSTARD SEED: not only represents the Gospel sown by Christ, and His Church, but also each one of us, called to be the source of solace and consolation to others like the mustard tree to the birds finding a shade and a home in it.
Furthermeore, the LEAVEN: which ferments all the dough, represents the every Christian, who in his earthly pilgrimage is called to be the leaven on the environment where he lives so that Christ would reign in the lives of many men and women.
Let us struggle to seek union with God and respond to His call to holiness and apostolate to be a source of joy, solace and consolation to others who are lost, and a fount of salvation, bringing souls to Christ, through perseverance in doing what is good; prayer, good example, friendship and apostolate, thus contributing to the elevation of the spiritual temperature in our environment.
Fr. Rolly Arjonillo.
TOPIC 1: DO YOU OBEY WHAT THE LORD WANTS FOR YOU IN SERVING HIM?
Today’s readings talk to us about the importance of obedience to God and to our elders when we are asked to serve. Perhaps, we may feel inadequate for the work in the kingdom of God. We feel we cannot handle a household, or preach in front of a crowd, or do a service outside of our own capabilities. But in today’s first reading, it is very clear to us what God wants of us to do. He said, “Now, go and lead the people to the place I have told you.” (Exodus 32:34)
TOPIC 2: Do you reminisce your memories together with your loved ones?
We all like stories. Bedtime stories we grew up in have shaped us to be a people who like watching CNN for news, or gossip tabloids, or inspiring stories of hope on the internet. Stories teach us lessons, inspire us, and brings to life many of its realities that we fail to see. Sometimes they are laced with humor.
An old man was lying on his deathbed. He had only hours to live when he suddenly smelled chocolate chip cookies. He loved chocolate chip cookies more than anything in the world, so with his last bit of energy, he pulled himself out of the bed, struggled across the floor to the stairs, and headed down the stairs into the kitchen. There his wife was baking cookies. As he reached for one, his wife smacked him, “Leave those alone,” she said. “They’re for the funeral.”
And this is how our Lord had made those who did not believe, those who did not know, and those who were indifferent to understand and learn what is in store for them if they just heed His word – through parables. Today’s readings are replete with parables, again. From yesterday’s gospel parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price, it continues with the mustard seed and the yeast.
In addition, the reading from Jeremiah talks about God’s relationship with His people, comparing it to a loincloth, which is, in today’s world, equivalent to an underwear. An underwear that is worn and not washed but left exposed to the elements will rot.
Because of their unfaithfulness and their worship of pagan gods instead of Him, God let them rot by allowing them to be exiled in Babylon and Egypt.
A tiny mustard seed and a small amount of yeast can become a huge tree and much bread to feed many people, respectively. It show to us how God’s followers turned from a few insignificant disciples to billions of people today, because we all believed.
These are miracles that may not be too evident nowadays as people busy themselves with the things of this world.
Now that we are on massive stay-at-home and forced lockdowns, it helps us reflect about our own stories; stories that show how God is working miracles in our lives.
Marriage itself is a miracle. We marvel at how couples can celebrate 25, 50 and even 75 years of being wedded to each other despite the challenges of married life.
One of the secrets of a lasting marriage is the reminiscing and retelling of our stories of togetherness in the early years of our marriage to one another. Recall the times of your courtship. Wouldn’t you be smiling everytime you recall those moments when your hearts were aflutter seeing one another?
The courtship period produces memories of how the wife was wooed by the husband; the visits, the dates, the trips, the gifts, the togetherness – all beautiful memories of togetherness that makes one smile.
And the struggles – they were aplenty. The lack of money, the children getting sick one after the other, the jobs that one had or lost, the quarrels and forgiveness asked and given, and the stories never end. And they make us smile, too.
Every bit of reminiscing strengthens our marriages and this is what we need to go back to every time we hit a wall in our marriages, every time we think of giving up on each other.
Roger Zerbe, who suffered from early onset Alzheimer’s disease, journaled this to his wife after a particularly troubling bout of forgetfulness.
Today fear is taking over. The day is coming when all my memories of this life we share will be gone. You and the boys will be gone from me. I will lose you even as I am surrounded by you and your love. I don’t want to leave you. I want to grow old in the warmth of memories. Forgive me for leaving so slowly and painfully.”
Blinking back tears, Becky wrote:
“My sweet husband,
I will continue to go on loving you and caring for you – not because you know me or remember our life, but because I remember you. I will remember the man who proposed to me and told me he loved me, the look on his face when his children were born, the father he was, the way he loved our extended family. I’ll recall his love for riding, hiking, and reading; his tears at sentimental movies; the unexpected witty remarks; and how he held my hand while he prayed. I cherish the pleasure, obligation, commitment, and opportunity to care for you because I remember you!
(Becky Zerbe, “Penning a Marriage,” Marriage Partnership, 2006)
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