Sunday, July 30, 2017: Season After Pentecost (Ordinary Time), Proper 12
Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52
Jesus offers more teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven in this week’s Gospel from Matthew. As he did in the preceding verses, he teaches in parables. The Kingdom of heaven is like the mustard seed, the smallest of seeds that grow into a tree where birds make nests in its branches. It is the yeast a woman mixes with flour to make bread. The Kingdom is a treasure hidden in a field, which is found, and in joy, the discoverer sells all that he has and buys the field. It is a pearl of great value found and purchased by a merchant in search of fine pearls; the Kingdom is the fisherman’s net that gathers up the good and bad fish, fish that are sorted – some saved, some cast aside.
As I mentioned last week, a parable is a story that is succinct and didactic, offering lessons and analogies. Again, Jesus uses themes that his audience would understand.
This is what I’ve concluded:
- The mustard seed is the Jesus Movement of the first century growing into the Christian Church, and it is the faith of someone who hears the Word and lets it grow in their heart, mind, and soul and shares it;
- The yeast is the Word of Christ that strengthens our faith which can sometimes be shaky or nonexistent and nourishes our souls;
- The field is the Good News that is discovered, uncovered and used to sow more mustard seeds of faith, grow more communities of faith;
- The pearl is the love of God and Christ;
- The fish caught in the nest is humanity. Christ will sort the good and bad.
These five discoveries, or as Julian of Norwich calls revelations, showings, are simplistic, but they are terms that I can understand and carry with me.
The Kingdom of Heaven, then, is you and me. Us.
The Kingdom is here and all around us.
Our love for one another despite our differences, our acts of kindness, resistance to corruption and evil, and our proclamation of the good news is what a kingdom where all are equal, all are loved, and we all work together for the good of humankind and creation, looks like and should be. This is what Jesus wants. We should want it, too.
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a smile at a stranger and a ‘Good Morning’ as you pass by. How many of us do that? It is that simple and powerful. It is one step of many, many, more.
We have work to do, my Friends.