31 October

Jesus said, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.’ And again he said, ‘To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’

At the time of Jesus, people expected that the messianic kingdom would be established with great fanfare and triumph.  There would be a lot to see and hear.

The ego always looks for a big deal: this is its trademark.  When you hear intense people talking big, with phrases like “I strongly believe,” or “I'm deeply convinced,” you can be pretty sure that the truth lies somewhere opposite.  The strength of the ‘conviction’ shows the strength of the doubt.  We don’t need to have “a strong conviction” that the sun rises in the east.  We just know.  What we know we just know; it doesn’t depend on proofs and clever talk. 

In a village there were two philosophers, one a believer and the other an atheist.  People began to be weary of their endless debates about the existence of God.  So it was decided that there should be a showdown, a definitive debate that would close the matter once and for all.  It began in the evening and continued through the night, the people listening intently to the opposing arguments.  By the time dawn began to light the sky, the atheist had become a believer and the believer had become an atheist.  

Advertising companies always begin with loud talk and a big splash: saturation coverage.  In our right minds we know that it is all nonsense… but it works!  It makes people go out and buy products they don't really need.  As they see us turning into idiots, the advertisers count their profits and make a science on us.  They call us “consumers”!  Not creators, not children of God, not wondrous beings… but consumers.  It is a description of any animal, even an earthworm.  But we come to accept it with horrible humility  -  a caricature of real humility. 

There is surely more than this to human life.  The Word of God became a zygote, scarcely visible to the naked eye.  He was born a helpless infant.  His first visitors were not religious and state dignitaries but simple shepherds from the hillside.  If the entry of the Word of God into human history was so humble and simple, it is not surprising that the Kingdom of God should also begin with the smallest and the most humble.  The mustard seed is very tiny, but it grows into a mighty shrub.  The pinch of yeast can raise three measures (about fifty pounds) of dough.  To discern the Kingdom of God we need close vision, and action close to hand – not big theories and acrimonious talk. 



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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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