Jesus continues to teach his disciples, and us, about the Kingdom of God by using parables and images that we easily understand. Who among us would not want to find a great treasure? Maybe we are thinking of winning the lottery! Or, what would it be like to find a rare pearl? In both cases, we would be excited and surely want to share our good fortune with others. The kingdom of heaven is the treasure, the pearl. It is given to us by God, no digging, no ticket required. It is pure gift. And it is meant to be shared with great joy.
In two short parables Jesus portrays the amazing power of the Kingdom of God. The size of the mustard seed is contrasted with the astonishing spread of the Kingdom as it grows to embrace countless people, just as the uncounted number of birds come to rest in the fully grown bush. In other words, there is no end to the breadth of God’s reign on earth. The yeast that leavens the dough tells a similar story. A small amount can create enough bread to feed many. But these images remind us that each of us can be instruments of the Kingdom of God. We may only be one person, yet our faith can affect an untold number of people; we are the seeds of God’s embrace, the leaven of God’s love in the world.
We learn from Jesus today that God is aware that there are weeds growing within the wheat. God is content to let them grow together, only to be separated later, at harvest time. We let God be God while we grow into the harvest we are meant to be. Our lives are not to be filled with judgmentalism but with mercy. “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone.” These are gentle reminders for us that as disciples, followers of the Son of God, we are content to allow God to act in his own time.
Jesus was fond of using parables with agricultural imagery. The sowing of seed on various types of land is one of his favorites. It is the only one that he actually explains. The seed is the “word of the kingdom” and the soil is likened to those who hear the word. Sometimes the word takes root in our lives and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it lasts for only a short while and sometimes it flourishes and produces a harvest of good works. The latter reality is always our task; the word of God shapes our discipleship and brings life to the world.