The Parable of the Mustard Seed

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Reflection on the Gospel of Friday In The Sixteenth Week In Ordinary Time

Matthew 13:31-34

 

Jesus mostly spoke to the crowds in parables though he was aware everyone did not understand the deeper meaning of the parables.  Many a times, even the disciples wondered what it meant and  Jesus would explain to them the parables later when he was alone with them.

In these verses, Jesus suddenly shifts the attention of the crowds to the Kingdom of Heaven to its full grandeur and it being universal, all embracing hospitality, by giving these two examples of a mustard seed growing into a tree and the catalytic effect of leaven used in making bread the two common household ingredients of every home. 

He tries to prove the point, what a small movement can have on the whole of society, just like a mustard seed can grow into a big tree with branches and the little leaven added in the flour can help the dough rise evenly.  In the same way does God’s plan work almost invisibly to bring about its purposes.

Leaven in Jewish tradition often had the symbolic meaning of evil, the tendency to sin in an individual, connected with the rituals of the Passover as the feast of the Unleavened Bread.  But here Jesus uses leaven positively, as a symbol for the power of God.  A side effect of this parable is that it is possible to see God present and active in everyday things if one looks at them with wonder.

Many a times we think, what will my one small act of goodness help build God’s kingdom either through my actions or deeds or by speaking the word to someone.  We should not worry about how small my act is and whether I am talking to just one person or two.  We just need to do our best and God will do the rest.

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