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Catholic Faith Communities of Skibbereen, Rath and the Islands
THE DEEP END: From small seeds
The parable of the mustard seed seems pretty straight forward at first glance, but as always there is more to it than first meets the eye. Jesus did not compare the Kingdom of God to a majestic tree. There is an ancient text which forbade planting mustard seeds in Palestinian gardens because the shrub takes over wherever it is planted. It is wild, gets out of control, and attracts unwanted birds. The kingdom of God grows from something small to something large, but more than that, its growth is overwhelming and it will grow even where it is not wanted. Author and activist, Shane Claiborne, compares it to kudzu, a wild vine that could blanket entire mountain areas, smother trees, even crack cement buildings.
People of Jesus’ time may have preferred the image of the lofty ‘cedars of Lebanon’ to explain God’s kingdom, where the nations could build nests like the eagles do. Now that image may have gotten a few cheers from the crowd! Mustard plants however, only stand a few feet tall. Jesus is turning the ideals of power and triumph on their head again. The image we have here is of the birds who find a home in this little shrub which cannot be curtailed. It will grow even where it is not wanted. Watch out this week for glimpses of this ‘mustard seed’ kingdom quietly growing.
Jane Mellett, firstname.lastname@example.org
Although Jesus’ words may strike us as poetic, they clearly run counter to the way things are usually done in our world. Even if we find Jesus’ message attractive, the world pushes us towards another way of living. The Beatitudes are in no way trite or undemanding, quite the opposite. We can only practise them if the Holy Spirit fills us with his power and frees us from our weakness, our selfishness, our complacency and our pride.
Let us listen once more to Jesus, with all the love and respect that the Master deserves. Let us allow his words to unsettle us, to challenge us and to demand a real change in the way we live. Otherwise, holiness will remain no more than an empty word.
Gaudete et Exsultate
Gaudete et Exsultate