Monday, July 27, 2015

Now, Go and Lead the People

So Moses went back to the LORD and said, “Ah, this people has indeed committed a grave sin in making a god of gold for themselves! If you would only forgive their sin! If you will not, then strike me out of the book that you have written.” The LORD answered, “Him only who has sinned against me will I strike out of my book. Now, go and lead the people to the place I have told you. Exodus 15:31-34A

“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.” Matthew 13:31B-32


Chapter 47: On Giving the Signal for the Time of the Work of God

The indicating of the hour for the Work of God by day and by night
shall devolve upon the Abbot either to give the signal himself or to assign this duty to such a careful brother that everything will take place at the proper hours.

Let the Psalms and the antiphons be intoned by those who are appointed for it, in their order after the Abbot. And no one shall presume to sing or read
unless he can fulfill that office in such a way as to edify the hearers. Let this function be performed with humility, gravity and reverence, and by him whom the Abbot has appointed.


Why would Jesus have equated the mustard seed with the Kingdom of God? 

Mustard is a spice with an interesting history.  These days, we spread it over a hot dog, sandwich, pretzel or even a crab cake to add a little pizazz to the taste.  It sits on the shelf with the likes of mayonnaise, ketchup, pickle relish and other condiments.  However, mustard has not always been in the 57 Varieties yellow jar.   

The ancestor to Gulden’s Brown and Grey Poupon is an ancient condiment outdating its other spicy cousins.  It comes from the plant growing up from tiny, round mustard seeds -- usually about 1 or 2 mm in diameter. The condiment is made from the tiny seeds that do not release their flavor until they are cracked and mixed with a liquid such as white wine. 

The Hebrews used mustard for cooking, and Abraham is said to have served cow tongue with mustard—a delicious combination that can be found today at a good delicatessen.  Today, there’s even a National Mustard Day— it falls next week on August 4. 

But…why would Jesus have equated the mustard seed with the Kingdom of God? 

The Kingdom of God starts out of humble beginnings…like the tiny mustard seed that becomes the flowering plant.  Once it is cultivated, the Kingdom also has room for all of us just like the mustard bush.  Jesus was the tiny mustard seed growing in the womb of Mary.  He turned over the task of building the kingdom to the rest of us and our humble “continuings.”  If the Kingdom is to grow, then it is up to us to make that happen.  When we are successful, we can add flavor and taste to the lives and loves and loaves of those around us.  

Maybe it is appropriate that the parable of the tiny mustard seed is one of the shortest parables in the New Testament to signify growing into something great from small beginnings. It may only be a few syllables longer than the parable of the leavened wheat – also on today’s menu. Thanks to the power of the tiny grains of yeast, the dough can “rise” until it is large enough to feed one hundred people.

Baby Jesus grew up to influence many.  Today, the paschal mystery of his Resurrection feeds the many. From humble beginnings.


Now is the time to get out of the kitchen, or the deli, and get to work building the Kingdom that people can taste and see and touch and hear and smell.  Yeast and mustard do not unleash their power on their own.  It takes someone to crack the mustard seed and mix it up with wine before you have a condiment.  You will never feed hundreds of people any bread with the packages of yeast commercially available – until that yeast is mixed with flour and put in a warm, dry place to do its work.

The next time you walk into a bakery where fresh bread has come out of the oven, inhale that fresh aroma.  Think about the wheat that was grown and harvested and dried and shipped.  Think of the water and eggs that went into that mixture until it was shaped into small loaves.  Think of the warm dark places where the bread sat while the yeast went to work yeasting. Think of the hot ovens that baked that bread – soft on the inside like your heart but harden on the outside to keep away those who would steal that loaf.
How will you spice up the Good News for others this week? Allow the Father to crack open your hearts so that you can add some zest to the lives of others in your piety, study and action.

No comments: