Contemplating Jesus


Posted on by Lucinda M. Vardey


In using the metaphor of a tiny mustard seed, Jesus portrays the spiritual life to his followers. He refers to it as the kingdom of God, the ways of God revealed to us. And just as he invites us to become like children, he introduces the mustard seed as an example of how to be very small.

A mustard seed reflects some of the Beatitudes. Poor in spirit it can be and do nothing without God planting it somewhere. In its meekness it does inherit the land, but only by allowing itself to be developed, not expecting, pushing, desiring, or striving. Devoid of personal will or self-gratification, it grows without looking out for itself. And like all life, the mystery of growth happens, without witnessing the process of the actual growing. And if it tries not to focus on why this is or how it happens but by accepting the ways of God, it ends up becoming “the largest of plants” (Mark 4:32).

We get to know more about Jesus from the truth revealed in his parables. The mustard seed is that baby born in a stable in the middle of a star-lit night when nobody was expecting anything extraordinary to be going on. The tiny seed planted among God’s people was to grow strong in wisdom, obedient to his earthly parents, waiting for the time when he was ready to “put forth large branches so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” (ibid)   And in the harvest season be plucked with a love borne from the abandonment of self to become the biggest gift of all, a gift that continues to seed and grow in an embrace that spans the universe.

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