In this Sunday’s Gospel reading, Jesus is talking about the “kingdom of God,” a very different kingdom from kingdoms of worldly rulers. Jesus uses teaching images of seeds that sprout and grow of their own accord, and of the mustard seed, “the smallest of all the seeds on the earth,” which grows large enough to shade the birds. Some commentators have been puzzled by this example because the mustard seed is not actually the smallest seed, and the mustard plant really is more like a weedy bush than a tree with branches. But notice in the picture, if left to grow, it establishes more mustard bushes and eventually spreads and becomes quite impressive! The point is that great things often begin from small things in which our Creator has stored great potential. The universe itself started that way. Animal and human bodies grow from microscopic entities. Another point of the mustard seed is that success is not necessarily connected with the best start. There were bigger and better trees with their seeds growing in Jesus’ Palestine, and yet he chose this big weedy bush as his example of kingdom growth. We can apply these lessons to our spiritual life. It takes most of us a lifetime to let grace smooth out our rough edges and develop our spiritual-human potential for the good, to become mustard seed kingdom people. And most of us are just ordinary sorts of people; we don’t have the potential to become huge sycamores or cedars. But God does not need that of us, just that we allow the divine in us to develop so that we become a dwelling place for God, and a respite for all those who need our shade from the harshness of life.
– Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia