Tuesday of the 30th Week of the Year

Luke 13:18-21

The Parable of the Mustard Seed and of the Yeast


There was a young man who dreamt that he had walked into a store where an angel was standing behind the counter. He hastily asked the angel, “What do you sell in this store?” “Anything, you name it,” said the angel.

So the young began saying, “I would like to order the following: a democratic government in Chile, an end to all the wars in the world, a better deal for the marginal nations, the removal of all squatter settlements in South America…”

At this point, the angel interrupted and said, “Excuse me young man, you did not understand me correctly. We don’t sell fruits and finished products in this store. We sell only seeds.”

Jesus in today’s gospel tells us about the parable of the Mustard Seed and of the Yeast. Jesus says, “What is the kingdom of God like? It is like a mustard seed that a person took and planted in the garden.”

THE PLANT ITSELF… The mustard plant is well known for its hot-flavored seeds; Among seeds sown in a garden it was generally the smallest; As a plant, it reaches ten, sometimes fifteen feet in height; In the fall of the year, its branches have become rigid, and the plant often serves as a shelter for birds of many kinds (William Hendricksen, Commentary on Matthew);

In the Jewish view of the world, order was identified with holiness and disorder with uncleanness. Hence there were very strict rules about what could be planted in a household garden. The rabbinical law of diverse kinds ruled that one could not mix certain plants in the same garden. A mustard plant was forbidden in a household garden because it was fast spreading and would tend to invade the vegetables. In stating that this man planted a mustard seed in his garden, the hearers are alerted to the fact that He was doing something illegal. An unclean image thus becomes the starting point for Jesus’ vision of the kingdom of God in this parable.

Mustard – a plant of the genus sinapis, a pod-bearing, shrub-like plant, growing wild, and also cultivated in gardens. The little round seeds were an emblem of any small insignificant object. It is not mentioned in the Old Testament; and in each of the three instances of its occurrence in the New Testament (Matt. 13:31, 32; Mark 4:31, 32; Luke 13:18, 19) it is spoken of only with reference to the smallness of its seed. The common mustard of Palestine is the Sinapis nigra. This garden herb sometimes grows to a considerable height, so as to be spoken of as “a tree” as compared with garden herbs.

PROVERBIAL USES OF THE MUSTARD SEED… The mustard seed was used frequently to describe anything that is small in its beginning; Jesus used it on another occasion to describe one’s faith – cf. Mt 17:20; The Koran reads “Oh, my son, every matter, though it be of the weight of a grain of mustard seed…” (quoted by R. C. Trench)

ITS TREMENDOUS GROWTH WOULD BELIE ITS HUMBLE BEGINNINGS… Just as the “small stone” of Dan 2:35 “became a great mountain and filled the whole earth”; The growth of the church in the first century A.D. certainly confirmed the truth of Jesus’ parable: The 120 disciples grew to over 3000 just in one day – Ac 2:41-42, It was soon about 5000 – Ac 4:4, The number of the disciples continued to “multiply” > 1) In Jerusalem – Ac 6:7, 2) Throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria – Ac 9:31, Years later, there were “myriads” of believers just in Jerusalem alone – Ac 21:20; 3. Even today, we see the growth and influence of the kingdom of heaven in lives of believers around the world!

THE GROWTH OF THE KINGDOM TODAY- THERE IS THE “MATHEMATICAL POSSIBILITY”… Beginning with just twenty disciples, each converting just one person a year, and their converts doing the same…; …the growth would be like a mustard seed!

  1. End of year  1 – 40
  2. End of year  5 – 640
  3. End of year 10 – 20,480
  4. End of year 15 – 655,360
  5. End of year 20 – 20,971,520
  6. End of year 25 – 1,342,177,280…. — All it takes is for each person to bring one soul to Christ each and every year!

IT’S GROWTH WOULD BE BENEFICIAL TO THE WORLD… In the parable, Jesus spoke of how “the birds of the air come and nest in its branches”. What is meant by Jesus?  He does not say, but the kingdom of God is certainly a blessing to all who take refuge in its “branches”:

  • E.g., “for the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” – Ro 14:17
  • To those seeking rest for their weary souls, the King offers His tender invitation to come to Him and enter His kingdom of rest – cf. Mt 11:28-30


  1. The potential for the kingdom’s amazing growth rests in the Person who reigns as its King…
    1. Those who will abide in Christ can be used by Him to produce the remarkable growth in the kingdom illustrated by this parable
    2. As Paul wrote to the Philippians:  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” – Ph 4:13
  2. Brethren, allow “The Parable Of The Mustard Seed” to serve as…
    1. An encouragement – The kingdom of heaven is destined for great things, though its beginning was small
    2. A reminder – That if we are going to be useful to the Master in this ever growing kingdom, we must “abide in Him” so we can “bear much fruit”


A young man dreamt that he had walked into a store where an angel was standing behind the counter. He hastily asked the angel, “what do you sell in this store?” “Anything, you name it,” said the angel.

So the young began saying, “I would like to order the following: a democratic government in Chile, an end to all the wars in the world, a better deal for the marginal nations, the removal of all squatter settlements in South America…”

At this point, the angel interrupted and said, “Excuse me young man, you did not understand me correctly. We don’t sell fruits and finished products in this store. We sell only seeds.”

The Kingdom of God is not a finished product. It comes about through small beginnings, oftentimes hidden, even painful – like the mustard seed that needs to be buried in the ground or the yeast that needs to lose itself in the flour. Let’s not be disheartened with the small, feeble steps, the many failures and dyings that come with the strivings to bring about the kingdom of God. Maybe we will not even get to see the fruits of all our efforts in our lifetime but we can be content that we have already sown the seeds and done our part. (Sr. Carmelita, SSps Bible Diary 2002)


Why did Jesus teach in parables? Parables are stories dealing with the ordinary life-experiences of people to bring home a lesson. As such they are effective and powerful teaching aids.

Let me share with you my father’s story from which I learned the lesson of true humility. My father and I were relaxing together near our stairs. From here we could see the street and the many people passing by. My father observed that whenever his uncle passed by our house he did not come in. For our elders, this was regarded as a breach of good relationships. To clarify matters, my father deliberately waited for his uncle to pass by again. He invited him to the house. “Uncle,” my father said, “Bakit po kayo hindi tumutuloy sa amin?” “Kasi mataas na ang hagdanan mo,” his uncle replied pointing to the stairs. “Mataas man po ang hagdanan ko tutulungan ko kayong umakyat,” responded my father and they understood one another.

Through the two parables of today’s gospel, Jesus wants us to understand that the kingdom is 1. Like the ordinary, small mustard seed which grows big to be able to embrace all people, accommodate various beliefs and accept all human experiences and 2. Like heaven; it stirs from within, challenging our inner selves especially in terms of what is not according to God’s preferences.

Do my ordinary life experiences/behavior effectively proclaim God’s kingdom? Do I reflect the joy of having experienced God personally? (Sr. Irmella, SSpS Bible Diary 2004)


One day an altar boy asked his priest-friend, ‘Father, how come you decided to become a missionary!” The veteran missionary replied, “It’s a long story. I was really nobody when I was little. My father used to scold me with words like, ‘You are useless, etc….’ And I began to believe him.

“One time, while my father was in his usual fits of cursing, a neighbor passing by overheard my father, and in a very casual way to both of our hearing he said, “you will never know how useful he would become somebody!”

“My father before he died remembered and repeated to me what our neighbor said a long time ago. This happened when I came back from my foreign assignment. His words struck me; he gave me hope and courage.”

A master storyteller, Jesus picked up a mustard seed and traced the humble beginning of this smallest seed in comparison with the other seeds to become a dominant plant in the surroundings. This parable of the mustard seed seems to point out to the external growth of the kingdom.

At that time, the people expected a powerful liberator who would inaugurate the kingdom by dominating the mighty political powers oppressing Israel.

Contrary to their expectation, Jesus came not with military might or worldly power.  He simply touched the hearts of his listeners, no matter how few and insignificant they were, gradually transforming them. They became agents of peace, changing a violent and divided society into a society where forgiveness, understanding and love reigns – the new messianic kingdom.

Jesus’ words, deeds and life empowered those lowly apostles and still empowering those who would willingly continue to make present Christ’s kingdom in the world.

To Jesus’ followers, trials and tribulations may come but His words and life become a source of power and victory at the end. Every time words of kindness and encouragement are said and deeds of love and forgiveness are shown, the kingdom is present and keeps on growing, like a mustard seed. (Fr. Ben Limsuan, SVD Bible Diary 2005)


How do we look at small things in life? “Napakaliit lamang n’yan, pabayaan mo na.” (It’s just small matter, ignore it). Small things are insignificant, unnoticed, unwanted, unloved, uncared for. However, great things always begin with small beginnings, like the mustard seed and the yeast in the gospel. Considerably tiny and insignificant, yet they contain within a great potential. Those whom we consider insignificant are the most valuable to Jesus. They are very important in the Kingdom of God. The “Little Way Spirituality” of St. Therese of the Child Jesus is the best example of this reality. What made her a great saint in her littleness. She lived an ordinary life filled with extraordinary love. For her, the smallest things done for love are the actions which win God’s heart. It is only by love and faithfulness to small, simple and little things that would generate transforming growth in our life and bring us closer to God. (Frt. Jonathan A. Letada, SVD Bible Diary 2006)


In our gospel today Jesus speaks to us by way of a parable: The Kingdom of God is “like a mustard seed that a person took and planted in the garden. It grew up and became a large bush and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.”

The point of the parable in Matthew and in Luke is quite different. Matthew stresses the smallness of the seed. The greatest things start from the smallest beginnings. The Kingdom of God starts from the dedicated lives of individual men/women. In the place where we work or live we may be the only professing Christians; if that is so, it is our task to be the mustard seed of the kingdom there. Luke’s version leads up to the birds making nests in the branches. The Kingdom of God will grow into a vast empire in which all kinds of people and nations will come together and will find shelter and protection. Every moment of our lives in this world plants something in our soul. God is continually calling us to a better life. He gives us a chance to grow. We are His children and like good parents, He wants to see us bloom and become better persons. We can experience the power of His words if we give it a chance to grow and prosper in us – in our daily words and actions. Like a mustard seed, may our faith, hope and love flourish in this challenging world. (Fr. Meme Levi, SVD Bible Diary 2007)


What can a mustard seed and yeast teach us about the Kingdom of God? Both, though, tiny, flourish slowly.  The tiny mustard seed grows into a large tree and attracts numerous birds seeking food and shelter. Yeast is a powerful agent of change. A lump of dough left to itself remains just what it is, a lump dough. But when the yeast is added to it transformation takes place and produces rich wholesome bread when heated.

God’s kingdom works in a similar fashion. It starts from the smallest beginnings in the hearts of men and women who are receptive to God’s word.  It works unseen and causes transformation from within. Paul the apostle says, “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us,: (2Cor 4:7).

Our Lord encourages us to cultivate patience, fortitude and hope.  These virtues are especially necessary for those who devote themselves in propagating the Kingdom of God. We must be patient and hopeful and with God’s grace,  wait for the planted seed to grow while profoundly embedding its roots in good soil to gradually become a tree. We too need to have faith in the fecundity contained in the seed of the Kingdom of God. This seed is the Word: our Lord Jesus Christ who compared Himself to a “kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies….but if it dies, it yields a rich harvest,” (Jn. 12:24).

The Kingdom of God produces a transformation – a new life which Jesus Christ offers. When we yield to Jesus Christ, our lives are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. (Fr. Romeo M. Bacalso, SVD Bible Diary 2009)


October 25, 2016 Tuesday

People have the tendency sometimes to notice and give importance to things that are big while deeming small things as insignificant. There seem to be a belief that bigger is better.  In today’s Gospel, Jesus uses small things to illustrate the Kingdom of God: the tiny mustard seed and a small quantity of yeast. However, their insignificant size is contrasted with their astonishing expansion and growth. The former grows into a large plant attracting birds to make lodging in its branches. And the latter leavens a large amount of flour.

The mustard seed illustrates that God’s Kingdom will grow into a vast empire in which all kinds of people and nations will come together and nd shelter in God. This is typified by the birds taking shelter beneath its branches. In the case of the yeast, the leaven is small but brings a change to the whole character of the dough. This shows that the Kingdom starts from the smallest beginnings.

There was just a small band of disciples, dedicating their lives to follow the Lord, who eventually proclaimed such Kingdom bringing its growth throughout the world.  We, perhaps, are among the professing Christians who are already enjoying the presence of the Kingdom of God in our midst. However, such Kingdom for some may just remain a static thing that needs to be set in motion. We are therefore being called to unleash its tremendous power: to commit ourselves to planting the mustard seed and to be the leaven of the Kingdom wherever we are.

We need not to think of big ways in doing this. Our little ways may do as long as they are done with faithfulness. Mother Teresa of Calcutta would say, “Little things are indeed little, but to be faithful in little things is a great thing.” (Fr. Dennis Testado, SVD Liceo del Verbo Divino, Tacloban City Bible Diary 2016)



Jesus also mentions the mustard seed again in Luke 17:6

The parable compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a mustard seed, which the parable says is the least among seed, yet grows to become a huge mustard plant that provides shelter for many birds. Much like the English saying Many an oak from a tiny acorn grows, and like the butterfly effect, the parable is usually interpreted as meaning that great things start from just tiny seeds of information, or from tiny actions [citation needed].

It might also be interpreted to foreshadow the kingdom of Heaven growing forth from the small actions of the historical Jesus in life [citation needed].

The Complete Gospels notes for Matthew 13:31: “The mustard seed’s smallness was proverbial, but it hardly grows up to become a tree.” and for Luke 13:19: “Jewish law prohibited the growing of mustard seed in a garden. Mustard is a shrub, not a tree.” The Jesus Seminar, which produced the Complete Gospels, rated this saying as one of its 15 red sayings. John Dominic Crossan has proposed that this parable[1], and others, are intentionally provocative. He points out that in Mediterranean climates, such as Galilee, black mustard is a managed weed. The analogy may be that the “Kingdom of God” is ubiquitous, persistently in our presence in the here and now. It also satirizes the aggrandized simile of temporal power as a mighty oak or cedar It would be obvious to state that the Kingdom of God is like the mighty Lebanon cedar which also starts from a small seed, but instead Jesus says it’s like the mustard weed. Does that mean the kingdom is something people try to control? Crossan claims this is part of the Historical Jesus’ style, rather than taking literal quotes from the Bible and commenting on them, he uses parables to generate discussion about the topics which just happen to be part of the Bible. Crossan also points out that by teaching in parables, right from the start Jesus was open to interpretation, which he wouldn’t have been if he merely taught sermons and directly told the people what to think and how to interpret the Bible. Evangelical scholars would dispute Crossan’s hermeneutic, seeing it as faulty in that it would in their understanding distort Jesus’ intent in using parables. See also Parables of Jesus.

While often interpreted as being a happy prediction of the growth of the Christian church on earth, some scholars[2] believe that this parable and The Parable of the Leaven, which immediately follows it, are a related pair which predict not just growth but growth with attending corruption, here denoted by the birds. The birds may be seen as an undesirable new presence on the farm, since they would eat up any new seeds the man sows in this field. The birds, then, may be seen to represent false teachers making their home in the church, thus preventing the church from bringing forth much fruit.


The Kingdom of God is Like . . .

Chapter 5 by Fr. Thomas Keating

The Parable of the Mustard Seed


He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall 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.”  (Luke 13:18-19)

The thrust of the parables is to subvert the distorted myths in which people live their lives. To understand what we mean by  “living in a myth” just think of a couple of our own contemporary myths. Take the myth of “the All American Boy,” for example. This is the young man who gets straight A’s in college and graduate school, climbs the executive ladder, and perhaps becomes the head of a multinational. Or the “American Dream:” two cars in every garage, vacations in Florida, houses in Spain, and so forth. On a more serious level, the American dream has been a vision of America’s invincibility, of its absolute entitlement in the eyes of God.

A myth is often what holds people’s lives together. It is an attempt to resolve the tensions of everyday life by promising an idealized future in which one will be rescued from all the problems of ordinary life. When a myth begins to falter, great leaders may try to find ways to recapture the glory of earlier days, like John F. Kennedy’s effort to rekindle the American dream by sending a man to the moon. American astronauts did go to the moon, but meanwhile the Vietnam war devastated the prestige of American invincibility and with it the American dream.

For the Israelites of Jesus’ time, the tension between everyday reality and a mythical vision of Israel as God’s chosen people was felt with particular urgency. From the heyday of national power and prestige during the reigns of King David and King Solomon, Israel had been on a downhill slide for several centuries, its kingdom conquered and divided several times over. If one lives in occupied territories, as the Israelites of Jesus’ time did, the question naturally arises, “Is this ghastly oppression by the Romans a punishment from God, or is our suffering just part of the human condition?” In the particular myth in which the people of first-century Israel were living, the kingdom of God had specific connotations of power, triumph, holiness, and goodness. The kingdom, when it came, would introduce a glorious new age of universal peace, with God’s chosen people at the head of the nations.

The cultural symbol for this myth was the great cedar of Lebanon. Cedars of Lebanon were comparable to the huge redwood trees of California. They grew straight up for two or three hundred feet or more. Every kind of bird cold enjoy their shade. This image was deeply embedded in the cultural conditioning of the Jewish people. The kingdom of God as a nation would be the greatest of all nations just as the great cedar of Lebanon was the greatest of all trees.

Instead, Jesus proposed this parable, “What is the kingdom of God really like? It is like a mustard seed”–proverbially the smallest and most insignificant of all seeds–“that someone took and sowed in his garden.” for an alert hearer of Jesus’ day, the detail about the garden would be a tip-off. In the Jewish view of the world, order was identified with holiness and disorder with uncleanness. Hence there were very strict rules about what could be planted in a household garden. The rabbinical law of diverse kinds ruled that one could not mix certain plants in the same garden. A mustard plant was forbidden in a household garden because it was fast spreading and would tend to invade the veggies. In stating that this man planted a mustard seed in his garden, the hearers are alerted to the fact that he was doing something illegal. An unclean image thus becomes the starting point for Jesus’ vision of the kingdom of God in this parable.

If the starting point is an unclean image, the rest of the parable becomes even more perplexing. What do we know about a mustard seed, botanically speaking: it is a common, fast-spreading plant, which grows to about four feet in height. It puts out a few branches, and with some stretch of the imagination, birds might build a few down-at-the-heel nests in its shade.

Steeped in their cultural images of the great cedar of Lebanon, the hearers would be expecting the mustard seed, Jesus’ symbol of the kingdom, to grow into a mighty apocalyptic tree. Jesus’ point is exactly the opposite. It just becomes a bush. Thus the image of the kingdom of God as a towering cedar of Lebanon is explicitly ridiculed. According to Jesus, the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, which some man illegally planted in his garden. It became a shrub and a few birds nested in its modest branches. That’s all. The parable subverts all the grandiose ideas about what the kingdom is going to be like when it finally arrives.

One of the most firmly held Israelite expectations was that the kingdom of God would manifest the final triumph of God in history. Its arrival, heralded by the long-awaited Messiah, would rescue Israel from its miserable subservience to the Roman Empire. It was a future kingdom, not one in the here-and-now. Jesus’ parable implies that if we accept the God of everyday life, we can find God in everyday life. We do not have to wait for an apocalyptic deliverance. We do not have to wait for a grandiose liberation. The kingdom is available right now.

The parables, according to Scott, are like handles on the mystery of the kingdom, pointers suggesting both what it is and what it is not. We cannot fully understand the kingdom because it is a mystery that transcends any possibility of being contained in a concept. But by rotating the wisdom of Jesus’ sayings in our mind’s eye and with the help of the parables, we can at least get a glimpse of it.

A parable points to something we only gradually come to know as we absorb the teaching of Jesus. In this parable he intimates that God is not necessarily going to intervene in this world for the triumph of the just. He may not intervene in an apocalyptic manner to deliver Israel or bring about justice and peace. He has entrusted the latter to us. We are not to wait around for an apocalyptic intervention to do the job.

If we lead a holy life–as opposed to a merely respectable one–we are likely to lose most of our friends and relatives. We might get one or two of them to follow our example, but it is like the mustard seed. We may get a modest result, but it is not in the nature of cedar of Lebanon. All we are likely to get is an inconspicuous shrub of which there are plenty of others all around in great variety. The mustard seed is just one step ahead of being an ordinary weed.

How are we to understand this deliberate use by Jesus of the unclean and insignificant as images of his kingdom? It suggests that God’s greatest works are not done on a grandiose level. Not in cathedrals, big buildings, or large mausoleums. Cathedrals can become museums rather than sources of inspiration for the Christian community. The kingdom is in everyday life with its ups and downs, and above all, in is insignificance. Such is where most people actually live their lives. The kingdom is thus readily accessible to everybody.

The parable affirms that grace is like a mustard seed sown in us, the smallest of all seeds. It is growing, but it is not going to turn us into a cedar of Lebanon. We will be doing well if we become a modest shrub.

So hard was it for people of Jesus’ time to get over their idea of the kingdom of God as a triumphant institution that even the evangelists tried to change it into something great anyway. In other words, the myth recaptured the parable. The parable was meant to change one’s idea about the kingdom, but what happened was that the old mindset began to interpret the parable in a way that was consistent with its former mythical expectations. There are four versions of this parable in the Gospels, three in the synoptics and one in the Gospel of Thomas, a document recovered about fifty years ago in the Nag Hammadi Gnostic Collection, which many exegetes think is closer in some places to the original oral tradition. For Luke and Matthew, contrary to all botanical good sense, the mustard seed does turn into a tree. In Mark, it turns into the greatest of shrubs. In Thomas, it turns into a great branch so that a lot of birds can rest in its shade. All of these expectations are contrary to the facts A mustard seed does not become a tree, the greatest of shrubs, or put forth a great branch, however much one may want it to. The oral tradition was evidently influenced by the old expectations of grandeur as people gradually slipped back into their former mindsets. They lost the radical thrust and the incredible freedom to which the parable called them. For us too, it is a threat to our preconceived ideas and mythical belief systems, and hence there is a strong tendency to resist its stark realism.

If we are looking for a great expansion of our particular religion, nation, ethnic group, social movement, or whatever, into some great visible organization that fills the earth, we are on the wrong track. This is not God’s idea of success. Where are the mightiest works of the kingdom accomplished? in our attitudes and hence in secret. Where there is charity, there is God. Opportunities to work for the homeless, the starving, the aging, are all readily available. No one may notice our good deeds, including ourselves. The kingdom of God manifests itself in the modest changes in our attitudes and in the little improvements in our behavior that no one may notice, including ourselves. These are the mighty works of God, not great external accomplishments.

“To what shall I liken the kingdom of God?” Jesus asked. The kingdom is manifested in ordinary daily life and how we live it. Can we accept the God of everyday life? If we can, then we can enjoy the kingdom here and now, without having to wait for an apocalypse or someone to deliver us from our difficulties.

Parable of the Mustard Seed


What does the parable of the mustard seed mean?


Matthew 13:31-32 tells the parable of the mustard seed: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”

Using parables, Jesus related truth through intriguing stories with familiar settings. Our grasp of this parable hinges upon a correct understanding of its key elements: the sower, the mustard seed, the great tree which grew from it, and the birds which perched on its branches.

The first two elements are easily understood.

  • The sower is Jesus Himself. He is the planter who came to atone for our sins so that we might become fruitful.
  • The mustard seed was the smallest seed known at the time. While it becomes more of a shrub than a tree, it can reach about 10 feet high. The mustard seed represents the Gospel, starting very small but growing to reach millions throughout the world who will inherit the kingdom. The field represents all the people of the earth who will receive Him.
  • The tree is rooted in Jesus Christ and has grown a harvest far beyond its initial planting. The King James Version says “it is the greatest among all herbs,” growing far reaching branches beyond natural explanation.
  • The birds’ of the air in this parable probably come from the Greek word “orneon,” signifying ”to perceive, to hear.” The tree offers a refuge for His faithful to rest in Him.

A tree, whose large branches offer a sanctuary for birds, was a familiar Old Testament symbol for a mighty kingdom which gave shelter to the nations. The tree represents earthly greatness and refuge to the nations. The tiny mustard seed, growing to be a tree, symbolizes Jesus’ offer of refuge and life in God’s Kingdom.

What is the meaning of the Parable of the Mustard Seed?

Question: “What is the meaning of the Parable of the Mustard Seed?”


Answer: Like with all parables, the purpose of the Parable of the Mustard Seed is to teach a concept or “big idea” using elements or details like birds, weeds, and growth, that are common, easily recognized, and are usually representational of something else. While the elements themselves do have importance, an overemphasis on the details or literal focus on an element usually leads to interpretive errors and missing the main point of the parable. One of the possible practical reasons that Jesus used parables, is that parables teach a concept or idea by using word pictures. By depicting concepts, the message is not as readily lost to changes in: word usage, technology, cultural context ,or the passage of time as easily as a literal detailed narrative. Two thousand years later, we can still understand concepts like sameness, growth, the presence of evil influence, etc. This approach also promotes practicing principles rather than inflexible adherence to laws. Further emphasis on a singular point is given when multiple parables are given consecutively on the same subject as is the case with the parable of the mustard seed.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed is contained in all three of the synoptic gospels. However, the Gospel of Matthew provides us with the most peripheral information, as it includes one parable before and after the mustard seed parable, each teaching on the same subject. Each of the three parables: the weeds among the wheat, the mustard seed, and the yeast, have six common elements in them providing structure which helps us to interpret the individual parables. The common elements are: (1) a similitude about “the kingdom of heaven,” the earthly sphere of profession both true and false, (2) “a man,” Christ, (3) “a field,” the world, (4) “seed,” the Word of God or its effect, (5) “growth or spreading,” church growth, and (6) “the presence of evil,” weeds, birds of the air, and yeast.

The Parable of the Mustard Seed was taught in rhetorical hyperbole. Here Jesus uses a shrub/tree coming from a seed (John 12:24) to represent kingdom growth, consistent with other tree/kingdom references (Ezekiel 17:23 and Daniel 4:11-21). With the seed’s growth, it attracts the presence of evil – depicted as birds (Matthew 13:4,19; Revelation 18:2) to dilute the church while taking advantage of its benefits.

So the picture painted in the Parable of the Mustard Seed by Jesus is of the humble beginnings of the church experiencing an explosive rate of growth. It grows large and becomes a source of food, rest, and shelter, for both believers and false professing individuals that seek to consume or take advantage of its benefits while residing or mixing among what was produced by the seed (1 Corinthians 5:1, 6:7, 2 Corinthians 11:13, Galatians 1:7). In other words, Jesus predicts that while the church will grow extremely large from just a small start, it will not remain pure. While this is not a condemnation of the “bigness” of modern Christianity, it does show us the greatest burden that comes with it. The Parable of the Mustard Seed is both a prediction and a warning. May we listen to its message.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

TUESDAY OF THE 30TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME (YEAR B) – LUKAS 13:18-21. UNSA MAY HAGIT SA SAMBINGAY SA LISO SA MUSTASA? Sa iyang damgo, si Berto gisuroy sa Ginoo didto sa Langit. Didto iyang nakita nga naghinobra ang gugma ug kalinaw. Nangutana si Berto: “Ginoo, pwede bang magdala ko’g gugma ug kalinaw ngadto sa among lugar kay dako kaayo mi’g panginahanglan niini”. Ug nitubag ang Ginoo: “Berto, dili man ko maghatag og mga bunga. Ang akong mahatag nimo mga liso ra. Kamo ang magtanum ug mag-amping niini aron motubo ug mamunga”. Ang sambingay sa Liso sa Mustasa nagtudlo nga ang Paghari sa Dios – kapuno sa gugma ug kalinaw – gihatag sa Ginoo kanato ingo’g mga liso. Anaa kanato ang tahas sa pagtanum ug pagpalambo niini. Adunay nag-ingon: “Plant seeds of happiness, hope, success and love; it will all come back to you in abundance. Such is the law of nature.” Posted by Abet Uy



Friday, October 21, 2016

Reflection for Tuesday October 25, Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time; Luke 13:18-21

Can we suppress the growth of the kingdom of God in our lives? Yes, we can suppress it that’s why many of us do not grow in faith. But as far as Jesus is concerned He surely wants us to allow the kingdom of God to grow and blossom in us so that through us others would benefit from it.

How wonderful it is if we only take time to share whatever knowledge that we have about Jesus. If we do so we surely can make a big impact in others life. By sharing Jesus we can give hope to the hopeless and we can give life to the lifeless in spirit.

Through our baptism God plants the seed of our faith. As we grow-up we start to have an awareness of our spiritual identity. Some of us nurture this spiritual identity by thirsting for Jesus until it blossoms in our lives. Others would simply ignore this tiny seed of faith that Jesus had planted; this is perhaps the reason why some of us do not grow in faith.

If you will not nurture this seed of faith, how would it grow and how would others know through you that there’s a God who saves, a God who loves them so dearly?  – Marino J. Dasmarinas



A TASTE OF GOD’S KINGDOM – What is the Kingdom of God like? – Luke 13:18

I left a promising and lucrative career in the corporate world for a career of greater purpose. While I know that being in my old company is where I was at my happiest, I also know it was no longer for me.

So I braved new heights and found a job where I was given tasks that do not necessarily fall under my strengths. I felt discouraged with the many rejections I received from clients. I got even more disheartened when I felt like I couldn’t give any valuable report on my targets to my new boss.

The disciples may have felt the same way about the Kingdom of God as they had very little understanding on what it was all about. But Jesus promised its fulfillment as He spoke in His parables. The Kingdom of God may begin as something small, but it is bound for greatness.

After a few months in my new work, I witnessed victories I never knew I was capable of achieving. Deals were successfully closed, targets were met, and the first project I was part of was a huge success. What was this project? It was the Kerygma Conference 2014. Ruby Albino (r_jean07@yahoo.com)

Reflection: Do you feel like giving up? Are your pains overweighing your victories? Close your eyes. Allow God to fill you with a vision of His Kingdom. Do you see it? Good. Now own it with all your heart.

Lord, if I feel discouraged, help me overcome my trials with Your promise of unimaginable blessings.



A RESTING PLACE – In one of my visits to a papaya farm, I learned that some of these fruit-bearing trees do not bear fruits at all. Because of this, the trees were regarded as the male species and those that bore fruits were of the female species.

Fertility is generally associated to women in our culture and one can even say that without women, continuity of life is impossible. The continuity of a generation, the stages of growth and the necessity of survival is almost synonymous to what women are good at.

The Church is always addressed as a woman. We call it our Holy Mother Church. In the same vein that we consider a woman, we speak of generation, growth and fruition of faith with the Church.

Understanding the role of women vis-à-vis the role of the Church in our life would help us understand how the Church helps a faithful’s quest to enter the gates of heaven, the Kingdom of God. But what is the kingdom of God like? Jesus said, “It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched on its branches. It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

The Kingdom of God is a resting place that nurtures and sustains life. It is not only open to the chosen few but to all who seek refuge. It is everyone’s resting place.

In our community, children who have problems usually seek help from their mothers. Mothers provide comfort and affection that beleaguered children  need.

That is why St. Paul reminds husbands to love their wives as they love themselves. The reminder also goes to the wives — to respect their husbands for he is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the Church.

The Kingdom of God is found in our hearts. It is the love we share with one another, which finds its full expression in the existence of the Holy Mother Church that Christ Himself established. Fr. Sonny Cotiamco

REFLECTION QUESTION: How can you be a “resting place” to people who have problems?

Dearest God, just as You give me comfort and consolation when I need it, may I share the same to others who have problems today.



October 25, 2016        

In today’s first reading we hear the apostle Paul write that “wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.”

Not many women today accept this teaching of Paul, and rightly so. Like all inspired authors of the Bible, Paul belonged to a particular culture and accepted uncritically a lot of his culture’s judgments, values, customs, viewpoints. For example, he never condemned slavery, whereas today slavery is universally condemned. He was hard on gays, because he thought that homosexuality was a free choice, whereas we now know it is not. He thought it a disgrace for men to wear long hair (1 Cor 11:14). In other words, like all of us he was conditioned by his culture to a large extent—including his views on submissive wives.

Fortunately, in his Apostolic Letter The Dignity of Women (August 15, 1988), Pope John Paul II completed Paul’s teaching by stating the following: “All the reasons in favor of the ‘subjection’ of woman to men in marriage must be understood in the sense of a ‘mutual subjection’ of both.” In other words, the husband must be subordinate to his wife just as much as the wife be subordinate to her husband. Paul’s text begins thus: “Be subordinate to one another.”




See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

Back to: Tuesday of the 30th Week of the Year

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