Ephesians 5:21-33 or 5:2a, 25-32
"For in hope, we were saved."
I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve felt very small. Turn on the news and every problem in the world seems overwhelming. Millions of people are out of work, the state of the economy is dire, there’s no solution in sight for healthcare. How will I afford a good education for my kids? What if the value of my home continues to fall? Is our country safe? And now, I guess we even have to live in fear of the flu. Maybe one of these is something I could tackle. But I’m just too insignificant to face such obstacles. Right?
Today’s readings show us the great strength that can come from the smallest most unlikely of places. Jesus is asked, "What is the Kingdom of God like?" What do you think he will say? Perhaps a vast forest or elaborate gardens, maybe even a palace. We know that God’s Kingdom must be impressive and grandiose. Yet, God’s Kingdom is instead likened to the smallest and most inconsequential of things-a tiny little mustard seed. I guess if you just see the dried piece of earth in a seed this might seem a very strange comparison. But the seed if planted and nourished becomes a tree. That tree becomes food, shelter and security for the birds. Something that in the palm of your hand looks like no more than a speck of dirt holds the potential for a whole new life. That life can then sustain the lives of more of God’s creatures. It is truly a miracle.
But how can we believe that such a miracle is possible? We must remember that God is at work in our lives in the quietest of ways. Like the yeast that turns flour into bread, God can be transforming our lives almost in secret. Much as the yeast works slowly, concealed, God is present in our lives underneath even every grain of suffering. Perhaps we have lost sight of him amidst the fear, pain and loss that we experience every day. This is a powerful metaphor that Christ uses to describe his Father’s Kingdom. Yeast is an agent of real change. It can take wheat and make it into a whole new reality-bread. I don’t know if you have ever made bread. What starts as flour and water grows and expands and becomes something entirely different. It’s nothing short of amazing.
Each of our own personal challenges may seem insurmountable. But we can’t judge the whole of our lives on what we see in front of us. The seeds we sow today can grow into something beautiful tomorrow. Our sadness, even our failures, may transform us in the greatest of ways. We begin small, like the mustard seed. We may not fully appreciate the divine work of God in our lives like the yeast. Look with the eyes of the world and there are only seeds and yeast. Look with the eyes of faith and you will find the tree and the bread.
Marlo Serritella ([email protected])is on staff at the Holy Cross Province Development Office in Chicago.