Growing in Faith

Luke 13: 18-21
Rom 8:18-25 / Ps 126

What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden.
(Luke 13:18)

Like mustard seed or leaven dough
May we be changed in mind and soul,
Slowly but surely in spirit grow...
To reach our everlasting goal.

Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.” Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

Reflection

It seems our Lord was quite fond of using seeds as an analogy for His teachings. We are all familiar with His parable of the sower, where seeds are sown in different kinds of soil (Mt.13:1-8), and only a few produce abundantly. His parable of the good seed and the weeds (Mt. 13:24-30), shows that good and evil co-exist in the world. In citing the power of faith, Jesus taught, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” (Lk.17:6) And in prophesying His own death, He said, “Amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” (Jn.12:24) He also likened the kingdom of God to a seed that grows by itself without man’s intervention (Mk. 4:26-29). But in today’s Gospel, the kingdom of God is more graphically compared to a mustard seed — so small and insignificant at the start, but grows into a large shrub that can accommodate birds of the sky in its branches.

It is the Holy Spirit Who plants the seeds of God’s kingdom in our hearts. In most instances, we may not be aware of it, as ‘of its own accord it grows’ (Mk.4:28) from a very small seed to a plant yielding abundant fruits. In our Christian Life Program’s ‘Baptism of the Holy Spirit,’ I failed to experience any manifestation of the Spirit, and was initially disheartened, seeing as many of the other participants were either ‘slain’ by the Spirit, speaking in tongues, or breaking down with ‘the gift of tears’. It was only years later when I came to realize that external manifestations, like the fig tree full of leaves in Matthew 21:19 do not necessarily a productive disciple make.

The kingdom of God is about transformation. It is a tiny seed becoming a large bush, providing shelter and food to God’s winged creatures. It is a small amount of yeast (leaven) mixed into a large amount of flour that brings about an abundance of bread to nourish hungry souls. It grows quietly in our hearts and in our Church, while we sleep and do not take notice. For as long as we have faith, even just a small amount, the Holy Spirit will make God’s kingdom grow, and multiply abundantly. And no evil on earth can grow alongside and withstand the will of God Who has planted it.

Dear Father, our Lord Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is among you” (Lk.17:21). Grant that we may always nourish Your kingdom in our hearts by meditating on Your Word daily, and receiving Him constantly in the Holy Eucharist. Amen.

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