He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.”
He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.” Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables; without a parable he told them nothing. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth to speak in parables; I will proclaim what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
One of my favorite childhood rituals was baking bread with my mom. An accomplished cook and baker, she used bread making to teach me that good things come from starting small and having patience. Whenever possible, we’d make our own leaven by mixing flour and water with natural bread starter (wild yeast and bacteria) that we created from scratch and maintained week to week. “A little starter goes a long way,” my mom would say.
To be sure, the secret to great bread is in the ingredients and the process of putting it all together. But what I remember most about bread making as a child was spending time with my mom marveling at the intricacies of God’s creation, talking about life, and laughing. (Of course, a highlight was taking the bread out of the oven and sitting at the kitchen table eating slices slathered in butter!)
By using the parable of the leaven, Jesus reveals that the kingdom of God starts small. Like yeast, a little faith goes a long way. The kingdom of God also works from within. As our faith grows, we become better able to see “God in all things” and, ideally, we reach outside ourselves and build community. Through God’s grace, prayer, and communal worship, we become leaven in the world.
Think about that, from even the smallest faith we have the power to transform the world!
This week, reflect on your faith. No matter how small it may seem, take heart in the fact that a little goes a long way. Applying the lessons of the parable of the leaven, how might you nurture your faith so that it grows? How might you be leaven in the world, helping to foster faith in others and serving where the need is greatest?
—Jeremy Langford is the director of communications for the Midwest Jesuits and author of Seeds of Faith: Practices to Grow a Healthy Spiritual Life ©2007 Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA
O God, protector of all who hope in you, bestow your mercy upon us. Help us throughout the coming week to be leaven for all those we live with, those we work with, those we meet along life’s journey. May we find in you, holy God, the greatest treasure of our hearts. Amen!Please share the Good Word with your friends!