Jesus said to them, “Does anyone bring in a lamp in order to put it under a basket or a bed? Shouldn’t it be placed on a lampstand? Everything hidden will be revealed, and everything secret will come out into the open. Whoever has ears to listen should pay attention!”
He said to them, “Listen carefully! God will evaluate you with the same standard you use to evaluate others. Indeed, you will receive even more. Those who have will receive more, but as for those who don’t have, even what they don’t have will be taken away from them.”
Then Jesus said, “This is what God’s kingdom is like. It’s as though someone scatters seed on the ground, then sleeps and wakes night and day. The seed sprouts and grows, but the farmer doesn’t know how. The earth produces crops all by itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full head of grain. Whenever the crop is ready, the farmer goes out to cut the grain because it’s harvesttime.”
He continued, “What’s a good image for God’s kingdom? What parable can I use to explain it? Consider a mustard seed. When scattered on the ground, it’s the smallest of all the seeds on the earth; but when it’s planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all vegetable plants. It produces such large branches that the birds in the sky are able to nest in its shade.”
With many such parables he continued to give them the word, as much as they were able to hear. He spoke to them only in parables, then explained everything to his disciples when he was alone with them.
Jesus continues to tell stories about G_d’s Realm. Yesterday, he talked about it coming in the middle of history, not at the end of it like a lot of people thought (and some still do). Today, he talked about what it’s like and how it spreads.
In both stories, Jesus talked about G_d’s Realm like it was something being planted. Just as we plant flowers in an existing garden, water them, nurture them, weed them, with the intent that they will be grow and be beautiful, so G_d, through Jesus, “planted” the promised Realm.
But the growing is down in secret. That is, we don’t know exactly when the flowers start to grow. We don’t know when the seeds first begin to sprout or who the mixture of soil and water and sunlight feed the seeds. Likewise, we don’t know how or when G_d’s Realm takes hold in a person’s heart and life. The “seed” - the loving actions of a person - may have been planted long ago. It has taken time for that seed to break open the soil and grow deep roots. Then, after a time, the person starts to change her heart and mind. Her actions take on a new selflessness and care for the Other.
And those actions are like the branches of the tree. They’re not solely for the tree. They’re more for the care of the birds - the birds come and find homes and protection and nourishment from the tree. Likewise, The Way of Christ evidenced in a person’s life by their “fruit” or actions, will be for the care of others. Jesus is saying that there’s an interconnectedness here. The soil and the sun and the wind and the rain and the leaves and the fruit and the branches and the nests and all the rest are all connected. They all form the tree. Likewise, G_d’s Realm is connected to all of us and we to it. We are all in G_d and each other.
This is why Paul could write, “Thanks be to God, who gives us this victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! As a result of all this, my loved brothers and sisters, you must stand firm, unshakable, excelling in the work of the Lord as always, because you know that your labor isn’t going to be for nothing in the Lord.”
Our actions matter. Our being Christ to others changes them and changes the world. It is this way that G_d’s Realm continues to be revealed in creation.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC