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.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives two familiar parables, comparing the Kingdom of Heaven to a mustard seed and to leaven mixed in bread. These well-known tales illustrate the fertile power of the word of God to transform lives and the world, to build up a great communion of people in God from tiny, humble origins. These simple stories explain this truth in a far richer way than even an eloquent theoretical discussion ever could.
The Gospel explains Jesus’ choice to teach in parables: in so doing, he fulfilled a divine plan and fulfilled an ancient prophecy. But it was also based on sound natural principles, for stories are essential to our lives. They shape us, change the way we think, what we imagine, what we treasure. They inspire us to do things and discourage us from doing others. That is why it is so important to surround ourselves with good stories. There is no such thing as “just a story.” Every story has power, for good or bad. Stories are not just things in children’s books: they are what we see on the news, what we hear in music, what we watch in movies and TV, what we hear from our friends. And every story we hear subtly shapes us, for better or worse.
So it’s worth the effort to be formed by good stories, from the Bible of course, but also from literature, film, and music. And it’s not enough simply to avoid the bad stuff. We all need the help that good stories can give us in growing in virtue and holiness. They may not have the divine power of one of Jesus’ parables, but they can teach us in ways far more powerful than we could ever imagine.
—Fr. Matthew Monnig, S.J.
Lord, we wait on so many things: the healing of a sick family member, the completion of an arduous project, the answer to a long standing prayer, the guidance to make the right decision, the end to financial struggle, and the deliverance from a fear that continues to haunt us. Yet you remind us that if we have but the seed of faith – a sincere desire to listen and serve you – we will be moving in the right direction and your divine timing will provide for us. With gratitude we ask you to continue to accompany us this day.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team