The first thing I notice about today's Gospel is that both of Jesus’ comparisons feature critical agents of change. The mustard seed, without the man, would remain a seed and would not grow into the tree it could be. The yeast, without the woman, would remain yeast and would not transform into the bread it could be. I believe Jesus’ message here is that God chooses to enlist the help of man to foster the Kingdom of Heaven. God certainly could make the mustard tree spring to life on its own, and He could make the dough rise without any assistance, but in this parable, He doesn’t. Likewise, He asks us to cooperate with the growth of the Kingdom, starting here on Earth.
What does it mean to help establish the Kingdom on Earth? We are incapable of understanding much about Heaven (hence why Jesus spoke in metaphors), but we know that Heaven consists of souls in complete communion with God and with one another. If we are to create something similar on Earth, then, we must strive to be united ever-closer to our Creator and to show love - in thoughts, words, and actions - to our neighbor (aka everyone). As our devotion to God and to others develops, our spirituality naturally draws others into the faith, as the mustard tree invites the birds to find their rest in its branches. And this is how the Kingdom grows, starting on Earth, and continuing into eternity.
Naturally, all of this requires work. I have done enough gardening and cooking in my life to know that growing trees and making bread can be challenging. They take time, resources, and effort. But, like the woman in labor in the first reading, we have hope that the end result will be well worth it. Such is the case with the spiritual work we do to establish the Kingdom.
Another facet of the comparisons in the gospel, is that both focus on very small things that eventually multiply in size. This relates to the Kingdom of Heaven, and to the first reading, in that God’s Kingdom is so much more than we could ever imagine. Here on earth, as we toil, we only see the tiniest glimpses of what Heaven will be like, as the man and woman only first saw a little seed and the small yeast. We aren’t able to see what the Kingdom will look like in all of its fullness. But St. Paul reminds us that we have to work and wait in patience until the day when the glory of the Kingdom will be revealed.
Dear Jesus, inspire me to be an agent of change. Help me not to be complacent or idle, but to apply my gifts to the most important work I could do here on Earth. Give me patience during times when I am frustrated and tempted to abandon my spiritual pursuits and give me hope for the full glory of the Kingdom to come.