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Our Role in the Kingdom
Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest
Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus proposed a parable to the crowds. “The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’” He spoke to them in another parable. “The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.” All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, to fulfill what had been said through the prophet: I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation of the world.
Opening Prayer: Lord, I am one of the “crowd” today listening to your words. I am full of expectation and willingness to learn. Please bless me with deeper understanding.
- What Was Hidden Has Been Announced: Our Lord, quoting Psalm 78:2, fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy and shared with us some truths about heaven. It seems Our Lord wanted us to mull these parables over, to wonder about heaven, to cast the eyes of our souls in that direction. He knows perfectly the hole in our hearts that only he can fill, and he calls us to acknowledge our neediness and our homesickness—to live as sojourners on our way to our eternal home.
- Mustard Seed Experiences: Likening the Kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed teaches us that our smallest, most seemingly insignificant life experience, if it deepens our faith, can make a God-sized impact on the world. When we see the little “coincidences” of our day as blessings from God or receive the crosses with open-heartedness, we can be sure Our Lord’s Kingdom is growing, even if we don’t perceive it. He is working! “To pick up a pin for love can convert a soul” (St. Therese of Lisieux).
- The Whole Batch Was Leavened: A woman took the yeast and mixed it into the dough. She actively participated in the leavening of her bread. Similarly, when we “mix” our divine inspirations with our daily activities, the Kingdom of God grows. “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours” (author unknown).
Conversing with Christ: Lord, it’s clear from your words that I play an important role in bringing about your Kingdom. How blessed I am to be invited to participate in such a way. Lord, don’t let me miss an opportunity to pray well, do an act of kindness, or fulfill my duty, knowing that these small actions on my part have eternal consequences. All glory to you!
Resolution: Lord today by your grace I will imagine the large mustard plant growing as I perform a small invisible act of service for someone.
For Further Reflection: Listen to this podcast about the power of faith the size of a mustard seed, by Bishop Robert Barron.
Written by Maribeth Harper.