A Seed And A Sprinkle

What IS the Kingdom of God like? To what can we compare it?

If you’ve spent any time thinking about the “ends of things,” the “final things,” the end point of existence, you’ve probably wondered about the Kingdom of God. What is it?

Jesus gives us comparisons that are intended to make us think and wonder even more. He tells us that it is like a mustard seed that a man planted in a garden, or like yeast that a woman mixed into some dough. Hardly images we might choose for the very Kingdom of God!

I’ve always found it interesting that Jesus used comparisons that both men and women of the time could understand really intimately. A man would know about leavening, but not in the same way that a woman who has actually made bread with her own hands would; he knows it in general, she knows the working up close, and the timing, and the need for warmth, and the mistakes that can be made. A woman would know something about planting tiny seeds, but not in the same way that a man who had actually planted it with his own hands would; she knows it in general, but he knows the ground clearing, the furrowing with the finger, the burying to the right depth, the watering, the waiting, the possibility that nothing will grow from this tiny seed.

What both of these comparisons have in common is that they begin small and hidden. They both remain inactive and, in a sense, “dead” unless they are placed in the right conditions to take on a new life, and they need these certain conditions to thrive. When they DO take on new life, they grow continually and expand to proportions much larger and life-giving than their original form would suggest: a sprinkle of leavening makes a whole batch of dough rise in grainy glory to feed the life of others; a tiny, hard, hot mustard seed grows into a bush large enough to support the life of birds in its branches.

The Church grew from the small “mustard seed” of apostles and disciples until it reached the ends of the earth. And the Kingdom of God which is planted in the heart of each one of us is likewise small and hidden, and it is for us to provide the right conditions for it to begin to grow interiorly: self-giving love of God and neighbor. When we do this, growing in virtue and deepening our transformation in Christ, the life of God’s love within us flourishes and becomes life-giving to others!

Kathryn is married to Robert, mother of seven, grandmother to two, and a lay Carmelite. She has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and also as a writer and voice talent for Holy Family Radio. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and presenter, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Faith Formation, individual parishes, and Catholic ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Learn more at www.kathryntherese.com or on Facebook @summapax.