Jesus put before the crowds 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 fulfil 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.’Matthew 13:31-35
Over the past few months God has come in for a lot of criticism. Even those who have little or no faith have joined in. “Why doesn’t God do something?” “How could your God do this to us?” The frustrations of many have been expressed in this way. It must be God’s fault!
When we are not blaming God we devote a lot of time and effort to finding someone else to blame. After all, if we are being inconvenienced, there must be someone we can blame! At the moment a lot of people seem to be spending a lot of time and effort blaming the government, the House of Bishops, even local clergy for the restrictions that have been imposed in respect of the re-opening of churches. Despite the obvious intention of creating an environment where everyone can feel safe as they pray to and worship God, people seem to feel the need to apportion blame.
Today’s reading is particularly apposite to a consideration of the ‘blame culture’ because it is about waiting, about being patient. This is difficult for many because, in general, people do not like to wait, they are, by nature, impatient. Our modern technological age has led us to expect instantaneous gratification, not a place at the back of a long queue. Our ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality has taught us that if we shout loud enough, and in a convincingly aggressive manner we will get our own way. But … Jesus’ response to all of that impatience is direct and unequivocal. Jesus says: “No! Wait! All will come good in God’s own time!”
Jesus speaks of mustard seed (which is incredibly tiny) and yeast. These two small, ordinary things possess within them properties that belie their ordinariness. The tiny mustard seed can grow into the largest of trees. The yeast can grow and grow to produce the most wonderful and sustaining bread. But … both demand patience if their full potential is to be realized. This is just like the Kingdom of God, the coming of which we pray for in the Lord’s Prayer.
The nation’s churches are re-opening for prayer and worship. Prayer and worship are the primary functions of our churches.
Let us give thanks to God that we have come to this point after months of patient waiting.
Let us learn Jesus’ lesson of patience and forbearance.
Let us set aside the irrelevant and move forward with Christian love and hope in our hearts.
Then we may see that our focused prayer and worship may flourish, just like the mustard seed and the yeast, in our community and throughout the world.