Matthew 13: 31-52 July 30, 2023 Rev. Miguel Baguer
The pharisees were super religious people who, continually, needed to quote from the bible so they could sound religious, at the expense of people who were bored to death. On the other hand, Jesus hardly quoted the bible or the Greek philosophers. His’ were common and ordinary stories from life, stories that were easily understood.
Today’s parable is about what the kingdom of heaven is like. Is it like a mustard seed? Or like yeast while making bread? Or like a treasure hidden in the field? Or like a pearl of great value? Or a net thrown into the sea?
We might ask: “lord, which is it?”
It may sound that Jesus was having trouble describing the kingdom of heaven, perhaps because human language is inadequate to describe it, just as our concept of God can never be accurate to describe him.
We may think of God as a loving father, as the mighty creator of the universe, as a shepherd, as the ground of our being. All these things are true, but they still fail to describe God, because there is no other being of the same kind as God; God is infinite, and we are not.
So, what is the kingdom of heaven really like” it is a state of being, rather than a place.
It is when we know that there is absolutely nothing (in this world or out of it) that can separate us from the love of Christ. It is the treasure hidden in the field for everyone to have it.
That treasure is a love that everybody is invited to possess and to share, a love that is not meant to be hidden.
In the story today, the mustard seed may stand for the word of God, for the stories that Jesus told: seeds have a mysterious power inside of them to grow when planted in our hearts.
Then, just as the inner power of the yeast makes it rise, just as the power within our broken bones makes them heal, Jesus is inside the words of the gospel and it gets through us just like those seeds that grow mysteriously and miraculously in the ground.
But that doesn’t mean that Jesus grows on us automatically; it doesn’t mean that we are to be good Christians by listening to the gospels.
What it means is that, as there is power in his word, his word is not passive.
When we act upon, or react to his word, then, we reach that state of being that is his kingdom.
Once I read that martin Luther used to say: “after I preach my sermon on Sunday, I go home, pull out the Sunday paper, drink a glass of Wittenberg beer and let the gospel run its course”.
He knew that the power of his sermon was not based in his eloquence or his abilities, but in the cultivation of that seed in the person’s heart. He believed that it wasn’t him who had the power…it would come from the work of the holy spirit.
But at times we may go home and ask ourselves: “what’s going on in me, why am I spiritually depressed of far from God?”
Chances are that we are not nourishing ourselves enough from what we heard at church, because when we do, Jesus takes over and feeds us as his sheep through it.
And chances are that we haven’t turned to Jesus by seeking the kingdom of God, by responding what in that gospel book he enumerated as the beatitudes during the sermon of the mount, his advice to the imitation of his life:
- Seek God when you weep and comfort the disconsolate
- Be humble and patient
- Be merciful, give to the poor and feed the hungry
- Advocate for the discriminated
- Be a peacemaker
- and the biggest of his commandments: about loving God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind and loving others as yourself by knowing their needs, accepting who they are and, in return, be rewarded with God’s gifts of compassion, respect and peace.
Jesus calls each of us to shift the focus away from our own self-importance and, with humility, to place his teachings first in the very center of our lives.
One of the hidden truths of the kingdom is that each of us and all of us together as God’s people, are the pearl of great value. That is how much God loves each and every one of us: so much that God would send his son to walk among us to show us the way to the lord.
God did not let us get away with killing his only son…. He returned him to us.
Jesus himself is in the midst of us, calling us to return to the father who made us. We come from love – we return to love. And love is all around. God loves us even more than the merchant who gave everything for the pearl of great value.
We do not need to do what the world perceives as big and heroic things. As God’s own pearls of great value, every little thing we do for others brings a smile to his face.
The more we know we are pleasing God, the more confident and empowered we become as God’s people. Soon, the people around us and the people we meet begin to feel like pearls of great value as well.
All we really need is faith as small as a mustard seed to make the whole creation new! To give new life to our own tired bodies. To put a smile on the face of a stranger. To plant seeds of God’s love throughout the neighborhood in which God has placed us to make our home.
A life of love and thanksgiving is all ours to be lived and enjoyed if only we will have faith as small as that mustard seed.