The parables of Jesus make visible in our mind realities that, in themselves, are either invisible or go unnoticed. The parables in today’s Gospel are echoes of the Incarnation, through which the invisible God became visible in Jesus. We need these invisible realities to be kept fresh in our minds, as reference points of how God works in our lives.
The parable of the mustard seed allows us to visualize the future fruitfulness of our seemingly small actions on behalf of Christ. Most of what happens in the Church is small by the world’s standards—a sprinkle of water at baptism, a word of absolution in confession, a host of unleavened bread at Communion. And yet, contained in these small realities is the actual grace of God. The same goes for our small prayers, our small sacrifices, our small, hidden acts of virtue. These are tiny, from the world’s perspective—not worthy of even a footnote in the daily news cycle, let alone a headline. Yet, hidden within these acts of faith and responses to God’s grace is a great future, just as the tiny mustard seed contains within itself the potential to be the largest of shrubs. Contemplating this comparison will enable us to continue committing ourselves to the small things, the things that don’t appear in the headlines, but the things that will be fruitful for an everlasting Kingdom. St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta is credited with saying, “We don’t need to do great things, just small things with great love.”
The parable of the leaven in the dough allows us to visualize the transforming power of faith, hope, and love brought into the world by the Gospel. The leaven literally disappears within the mass of dough. In comparison with the dough, its weight and volume are insignificant. Yet, the entire loaf is affected by that leaven. It is changed and transformed. Similarly, Christians living their faith authentically may be indistinguishable on the outside from their neighbors and coworkers. But their witness, their mere presence, their simple act of love gradually transforms not only their inner circles, but even entire communities, societies, and cultures. Their simple acts of love and mercy unleash the hidden power of God’s grace in the world. This is exactly what happened when the disciples of Christ, led by the power of the Holy Spirit, spread the Gospel message, by both words and actions, throughout the world. The same can be true for the people our parish and diocese today. When Satan can’t get us to rebel against God through mortal sin, he will try to distract us from the fruitfulness of day-by-day fidelity to grace by stirring up reactions to “headline-worthy” events and decisions over which we have no influence at all. If we spend all our energy and attention there, the dough within our grasp will never receive the leaven God wants to give it through our humble and courageous faith.
Today’s Question for Prayer and Reflection
Do you believe the transforming power of the Holy Spirit can work through you to change the world and grow the kingdom of God?