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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Today’s Reading | Matthew 13:31–35 

He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.” (NRSV)

It’s astounding to me that a mustard seed—which as “the smallest of all the seeds” is about .05 inches in size—grows into a plant that is as tall as ten or fifteen feet. Every time I make bread in my kitchen, I gaze in wonder at how my dough expands and transforms when a quarter of an ounce of yeast is added.

Can you imagine what these planters and bread-makers in Jesus’ time must have thought when their mustard shrubs emerged and their bread doubled in size? When the smallest materials elicited such grand effects? While I can point to science to explain these phenomena, the only resources people had at that time were magic or, as Jesus suggests, faith.

Jesus offers his explanations of the kingdom of God as parables as a way to “proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world,” linking belief with practical, concrete examples. He challenges his audience: Do you doubt that the work of God’s church can move mountains, can effect grand changes from such humble beginnings? Just look at the mustard seed, at yeast—nothing is impossible if these insignificant materials can paradoxically expand plants and bread. So too has the kingdom of God expanded and blossomed to have a great spiritual impact.

God, keep my awe of life’s small miracles alive as a reminder of the power of your work. Amen.

Written by Katie MacKendrick, Editorial Assistant

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