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Reflection by Fr Anthony Crook RAN | Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel Reading (Mt 13:31-35) continues the Parables of the Kingdom we began Wednesday of last week when we started with Mt 13:1-9. In this chapter from Matthew’s Gospel we find we six parables regarding the Kingdom:

  • Parable of the Sower (13:4-9),
  • Parable of the Darnel (13:24-30),
  • Parable of the Mustard Seed (13:31-32),
  • Parable of the Yeast (13:33-35),
  • Parable of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl (13:44-46), and
  • Parable of the Dragnet (13:47-50).

Today’s Gospel Reading being the parables of the ‘mustard seed’ and the ‘yeast’.

Interestingly, in these parables, Matthew uses the phrase ‘kingdom of heaven’ rather than ‘kingdom of God’, which is the phrase used in the Markan and Lukan accounts. Commentators suggest this difference is in deference to the reverence the Jewish faith has for the divine name. Across the three synoptics though, we are reading about, and reflection upon, the same concern – What is it the impact/influence of the Kingdom will be like.

Often, parables are presented as the means of, or paradigm for, teaching the common folk; however, they are much richer than that. The scripture scholar C.H.Dodd provides the following definition of a parable that, hopefully, allows is to enter more deeply into the richness they offer: ‘a metaphor or simile drawn from nature and common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt of it precise application to tease it into active thought’.[1]

Taking this understanding then, we see the parables as stepping-off points. The familiar, the daily, the common place, are taken as opportunities to lead us into a richer understanding of the experience of God. And, consequently, the familiar, the daily, and the common place, are given a new and richer being themselves.

Today we find two common-place images – mustard seeds and yeast – that serve as windows into the nature and impact of the Kingdom. Both, either small themselves, or used in small amounts, are used here to demonstrate (open the doorway into active thought) the impact of the Kingdom. The active presence of true faith, which opens the door to the Kingdom in our world, can achieve great effects.

Pray to be mustard seeds and faith in our world.

 

[1] Harrington, D.J. (1991). Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of Matthew (D.J. Harrington, Ed.). The Liturgical Press, p. 198.