At first glance the message we take from the parable of the mustard seed is a consoling one. So often we feel helpless in face of the chaos, evils, and manifold needs of the world we live in. The image of the slow but sure growth of the tiny seed into a giant shrub is reassuring. It asserts that if I live in love, avoid hate and rancor, thirst for justice, and support good causes, my small efforts are meaningful. They do make a difference.
Moreover, the seed is not only a promise of life to come. It is already alive. In the seed the full-grown plant is already present in embryo.As a symbol of the Kingdom of God, the seed states that the Kingdom is not simply a future development. It is to some extent already a presence among us. As a symbol of the Kingdom of God, the seed states that the Kingdom is not simply a future development. It is to some extent already a presence among us.
A third and more sobering significance emerges when we are reminded that the mustard plant, large as it becomes, is not a perennial but an annual. Each year it fades and disappears. It remains to the tiny, hidden seed to carry the life of the plant into the next year. What thoughts this suggests about the way the Kingdom continues to take shape! Rejoice in hope, but be prepared for dark passages
- Sr. Mary O’Brien, C.P.