Of Mustard Seeds and Leaven

Homily for Tuesday of the 30th Week in Ordinary Time

The parable of the yeast or leaven offers us time to reflect on what happens when it is mixed with the ground seeds produced by our fields used to make dough. Just as the leaven breathes life into the flour, so too the Spirit breathes life into our bodies and souls. The texts of today’s Mass explode with magnificent, exciting possibilities in almost all directions. They state very clearly that every human being across the planet earth carries within him or herself the seed of eternal life, the source of transformation into Jesus Christ, hopes beyond their and our understanding. We are reminded that all persons, all those millions of Christians and non-Christians alike, throughout the world, already carry within themselves the seed or image or hope of eternal life in Christ Jesus. The extraordinary goodness which we find among the so-called pagan world of Buddhists or Hindus, or the strong monotheistic religion of Islam, represents inward groaning and eager expectation of the Spirit of Jesus.

St. Paul reminds us that hope is not hope if its object is seen. Sometimes our prejudices, our biases, our human weakness and our sinfulness blind us to the goodness of others. We do not discover this hope by looking heavenward but by attending to the earthly, physical form of human life. We discover hope in the ordinary, the commonplace. We await the redemption of our human bodies with all of its defects.

If we seek the reign of God, then we must reverence the hidden mustard seed that will develop into a tree of holiness in other people’s lives. We must be like the woman who so kneads the yeast into the dough that other people’s lives rise with freshness, life and dignity. We must be like the woman in labor whose travail and pain is all forgotten once the new life she brings forth is placed in her arms. The breath of the Spirit is the breath of hope.

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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