Readings: Wisdom 12: 13, 16-19; Psalm 86, R. Lord, you are good and forgiving.; Romans 8: 26-27; Gospel: Matthew 13: 24-43
This Sunday’s Gospel is a collection of three parables about the Kingdom. Allow me to view each from a certain perspective that, hopefully, can enlighten us on the core message of the parable.
The Parable of the Wheat and Weeds is about important realities. One, good and evil exist side by side in the world. Two, we must be very discerning and prudent based on our fidelity to the good, and on our trust and hope in God. Three, our trust and hope are fundamentally rooted and grounded in knowing that, in the end, God’s justice and plan will prevail.
The Parable of the Mustard Seed, probably the most popular among the three, tells us how little things can bear fruit in producing something great in the service of others.
The Parable of the Leaven or Yeast relates how the influence of one person, or an act, can be a powerful source of transformation or change to a whole system or community.
Mahatma Gandhi reminds us: “When I despair, I remember that all through history, the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it—always.”
This is one lesson in history that embodies for us the lesson of the Parable of the Wheat and Weeds. This gives us perspective in our desire, our prayer, our work for justice and peace that is always challenging and quite often seemingly futile.
Gandhi, in more secular and political language, says that in the sociopolitical sphere, evil and good exist side by side, with evil seeming to have the upper hand. But the lessons of history prove otherwise. The way of truth and love, the good will overcome in the end. Always.
This gives us perspective. There are two other points to buttress this assurance. One, I believe that the ancient Greek hubris always catches up with men and women whose excessive quest for power and domination, by any means, consumes them. Always. Two, it is as simple as a rock-solid faith in the Filipino saying: “May hustisya ang Diyos.” Always.
The second parable, the Parable of the Mustard Seed, tells of the popular quote from St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta: “We do not do great things. We do only little things with great love.”
This not just assures us, but shifts our perspective. The big wins sometimes, perhaps, again, always come in doing the little things—with great love. It’s a reminder that, in all we do, we must pray for devotion.
That’s devotion to the one for whom we do things. Devotion to our mission is sharing in the mission of Jesus and thus devotion to Jesus himself, who tells us: “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)
“Do little thing with great love,” and if I may add, with discipline, patience, perseverance and, above all, devotion that always gives perspective. With this we can be sure that “nothing will be impossible for us.” Always.
Margaret Mead, one of the leading cultural anthropologists of modern times, wrote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
This is what the Parable of the Leaven tells us. We can begin with the 12 apostles of Jesus who, with great missionary zeal, started one of the most enduring and influential organizations in human history. With her ups and downs, triumphs and failures, holy and sinful, the Church continues to be a guiding and inspiring presence for many.
In the history of the Church, there are many men and women whose personal charism inspired and created an impact on the lives of millions across cultures and eras. You have Saints Francis of Assisi , Dominic, Benedict, Teresa of Avila and Ignatius of Loyola, whose first seven companions grew into tens of thousands, becoming the world’s largest and most influential religious order through close to five centuries.
In modern times, you have St. Mother Teresa, St. Pope John the XXIII, whose vision and courage to convene the Second Vatican Council reformed the Church—an unfinished reform—and allowed the Spirit of the Risen Lord to move it with greater freedom.
In secular history, there are equally edifying men and women whose lives inspired movements that shaped our civilization—Gandhi, Jose Rizal, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Anne Frank, Marie Curie, Tandang Sora, Teodora Alonzo, Cory Aquino, Maya Angelou.
“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.”
Not only does Jesus tell us that change comes from a small group of people, from small acts, humble beginnings, but perhaps more important is that if it is genuine change—one that is grace and from God—it is always for the greater good of the greater majority.
It is always selfless. It always leads to the building of the Kingdom of God. It always gives glory to God. Always. —CONTRIBUTED