Jesus said to the crowd, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.’
And again he said, ‘To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’
In today’s reading Jesus asks two questions that we cannot possibly answer: What is the kingdom of God like? and To what should I compare the kingdom of God? There is much talk of the kingdom of God as we journey through the gospel narrative. We are constantly presented with the kingdom of God as a final destination to which we should all aspire. But, what is the kingdom of God like? and to what can we compare the kingdom of God?
In today’s reading Jesus tries to give us an answer to these questions in terms that we might be able to understand. He chooses mustard seed and yeast as two things that we know have a capability to be so much more than we can see. The tiny mustard seed grows into a great tree which is capable of giving shelter to many birds, to many who need shelter and protection. And yeast is that which combines with large quantities of flour to provide food that sustains life. Through his use of mustard seed and yeast Jesus is telling us so much more than we can predict or comprehend.
Human beings do not like uncertainty. Human beings like to feel that they are ‘in control’ and can choose the way they journey through this life. Of course, on one level, this is true. God gave us freedom of choice. We can choose to travel the path he has laid for us, or we can choose to travel in the opposite direction. But, Jesus’ talk of the kingdom of God, and today’s examples of how we might make it fit into the bounds of our limited intellect, are invitations to keep our eyes on the ultimate destination that is God’s gift to us.
As we journey through this life we have experiences that we describe as being ‘heavenly’ or as being ‘the closest thing to heaven we could ever know’. In our very naïve way our use of such phrases demonstrates our need for Jesus’ help to put things into context. Nothing in this world is ‘heavenly’; that is to come when our pilgrimage through this life ends. It is only through an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ that we can begin to catch even the most fleeting of glimpses of the divine home Jesus has prepared for us.
Let us pray that we might not be so blinkered as we journey through this life that we fail to see the indescribable joy that awaits us. Let us pray that, as we keep our eyes firmly focused on the ‘kingdom of God’ Jesus describes, we might not be distracted and diverted from following the path he has trod before us. Let us pray that, in our time, we might come to see the totality of God’s kingdom, a kingdom that is open to all who journey in faith.