“To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God,
or what parable can we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground,
is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth.
But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants
and puts forth large branches,
so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”
With many such parables
he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it.
Without parables he did not speak to them,
but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.
We’re tempted to say, “You’re God. Just get on with it. Do it!” But why would God work the way he does? We might attempt a few explanations. It is a commonplace of the Bible that God rejoices in our cooperation. He wants to involve us, through freedom, intelligence, and creativity, in what he is doing. And so he plants seeds, and he wants us to cultivate them.
—Bishop Robert Barron
So often, when we cry out to God for clear answers and swiftly delivered miracles, it seems that we are given even more puzzling mysteries in return. When people asked Jesus about the meaning of the Kingdom of God, He didn’t just give them a simple answer. He spoke in parables to draw them deeper and help them to truly reflect and understand. He gave them a story with layers and metaphors in which they could find deeper meaning. Jesus knew that they weren’t ready to hear a more direct answer, but if they began by reflecting on this parable, the roots of contemplation would begin to grow within them, preparing the way for true understanding to take full bloom.
We want to rush things, but true growth is slow and gradual. In order to really let the Word take root within us, we must be patient. We don’t need to bring much to the table in order to grow—just our little mustard-seed souls—but we must have a willingness to be nurtured. We need to be open to receive what God gives us. All the answers we long for can only be given in relationship with Jesus, by allowing Him to expand our hearts so that we are ready to receive the fullness of truth. The crowds wanted to understand, but only the disciples, who stayed with Jesus and talked with Him in private, were prepared to receive the full explanation. In order to become His disciples, we, too, must meet Him in private. When we come to Him in prayer, He can illuminate our souls and help us to grow, raising us above the soil to see the vast sky above.
Image: Apple blossom / PD-US