A reflection by Fr. Azam Vianney Mansha, CJM
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
The parabolic teaching of Jesus is unique to its context and to the community of believers then. The center of the parabolic teaching of Jesus is the Kingdom of God, which we can observe in His seven short parables: “The Kingdom of God and the Treasure” (Matthew 13:44); “The Kingdom of God and the Pearl of Great Price” (Matthew 13:45-46); “The Kingdom of God and the Household Treasure” (Matthew 13:52); “The Kingdom of God and Yeast” (Matthew 13:33 & Luke 13:18-19); “The Kingdom of God and the Mustard Seed” (Matthew 13:31-32; Mark 4:30-34 and Luke 13:18-19); “The Kingdom of God and the Sprouting Seed” (Mark 4:26-29); and “The Kingdom of God and the Fishing Net” (Matthew 13:47-50).
It is good to know that each parable is not just a simple contextual teaching or moral lesson, but that it contains divine reality. In today’s Gospel when Jesus used a mustard seed as an analogy for the Kingdom of God, He wants to point out something greater than the ordinary while using the analogy of the mustard seed. (By the way, the mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds in the world. Its exact size can be around 1 to 2 millimeters in length. In ancient Israel, it was used as an herb in many regional foods.)
Now, we can ask ourselves, “What does the symbolism actually mean in the context of Jesus’ words?” Let us unfold the mystery of today’s Gospel passage together.
Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus taught His disciples to be small and humble (Matthew 20:20-28). Jesus reminded his disciples not to look for “the big things” and glory in the world because faith in Him is enough to encounter the Heavenly Father. What Jesus is actually emphasizing to His disciples is that little things and small actions can make a different in one’s own life, as well as in the life of many others in society (John 7:38).
In trying to reach out to His disciples and listeners through the “The Parable of Mustard Seed,” Jesus is unlocking the mystery of faith. He said, “if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘move from here to there,’ and it will move” (Matthew 17:20). The power of little faith is much needed to live a righteous or virtuous life as prophet Habakkuk said (Habakkuk 2:4).
In our personal lives, we all have received the “mustard seed” through the sacrament of Baptism, and we are all invited by Jesus to use this “mustard seed” for two things:
1. To grow
Even though the mustard seed is the smallest seed, it still has the power to grow and cover the ground. We might think that we have a little faith and that it is not enough, but our little faith in Jesus Christ will actually help us to encounter Him so that we can bring the message of hope and mercy to our suffering brothers and sisters through our works of mercy (Matthew 25:35-36).
2. To nourish
The mustard seed does not only grow and provide space for the birds, but it also produces fruit. Our faith in Jesus Christ, first and foremost, helps us to encounter Jesus; but this encounter with Jesus Christ should not be limited to ourselves, but rather, it must also be shared and seen by others. In Mt 5:16, it says, “…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
May Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother, intercede for us to always carry the mustard seed of faith in us so that we may encounter Jesus Christ which will enable us to share with others our good words and good deeds.
A hopeful Sunday to all. Let us join Fr. Azam Mansha in his reflection of today’s gospel on the mustard seed. May our Lord bless your heart today so that the Kingdom of God may be upon you and your loved ones.