Defining God’s Kingdom

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

‘What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it with? It is like a mustard seed which a man took and threw into 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.

Jesus went on to say, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it with? It is like a mustard seed which a man took and threw into his garden: it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air sheltered in its branches.’ Again He said, ‘What shall I compare the kingdom of God with? It is like the yeast a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour till it was leavened all through.’ (Luke 13:18-21)

Reflection

Earlier in this chapter of Luke, Jesus gave another parable about a fig tree that a man had been tending for three years in his vineyard, but when “he went to look for fruit on it, (he) did not find any.” (Lk.13:6-9) Unlike the common mustard shrub, which easily propagated itself, fig trees were specially tended for their delicious fruit. Perhaps our Lord was referring to Israel allegorically as the fig tree that God Himself had nurtured for many centuries as His Chosen people, but never produced the fruit of faith in His kingdom, and even rejected His Son, the Redeemer of the world. In contrast to the favored fig tree, the mustard seed was just “thrown into his garden” – like the Gentiles that the whole Israelite nation rejected as faithless, but somehow grew “and became a tree, and the birds of the air sheltered in its branches.” That tree is the faith of Christianity that arose from the death of a single insignificant seed that was “thrown” and abandoned on the hill of Calvary.

Jesus made this prophecy about Himself when he said in another Gospel passage, “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). It is by the grace of God (and the work of the Holy Spirit) that the kingdom of God (and our faith) have grown in all the corners of the world. No force on earth can ever prevent the fulfillment of God’s will – His kingdom “ to come here on earth, as it is in heaven.” Like the yeast in the other parable of Jesus, it continues to grow, perhaps hidden, within us as we are formed by the Holy Spirit. Likewise, it is also manifested in the growth of our communities, such as our Brotherhood, which started as a simple breakfast meeting just a little over 30 years ago, but has now grown into more than a hundred communities all over the country.

This realization of God’s kingdom gives us hope whenever we are confronted by the trials, tragedies, evils and sufferings that happen all over the world. In the first reading today, St. Paul wrote: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us … We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it with endurance.” (Rom.8:18, 22-25)

The kingdom of God brings about our transformation. It is a tiny seed becoming a large bush, providing shelter and food to God’s creatures. It is a small amount of yeast (leaven) mixed into a large amount of flour that produces 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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