Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator
The images that Jesus uses in the parables we read in today's Gospel may fail to capture our imagination simply because mustard seed and yeast are not commodities which we use with any regularity. Most of us buy mustard and bread from the local grocery store rather than growing our own mustard or baking our own bread. The connection between the two may be equally obscure to us.
Mustard seed, as the Gospel tells us, can grow to be a large shrub or bush. However, even more importantly, anything that grows near it will take on the mustard taste. Consequently, it was not planted in a garden where other food was grown. Its taste would have overpowered the taste of the other plants. In that respect it can be a noxious product as well as useful.
Yeast is another commodity that overtakes anything with which it is used. Yeast causes other elements to ferment, and in so doing, it transforms them into other things. Flour and water become bread. Flour, sugar and water become cake, etc.
At the same time, it should be noted that mustard and yeast are usually used in small quantities. However, even small quantities can effect great change. It is in this respect that Jesus speaks of the Realm of God. God's Realm is small enough to be contained by the earthen vessels of humanity, but those earthen vessels can effect great changes when they bring the power of the Realm of God to bear on ordinary activity.