Some people interpret today’s gospel as a description of how the Kingdom of God starts out small and grows beyond all expectations. But these parables have much more to tell us. Like a mustard seed, yeast is small and to the naked eye it’s pretty insignificant; yeast is composed of single-celled fungi that cause fermentation which is indispensable to bread making and brewing. Yeast does its work in the short time between its activation by warm water, and its death, usually by the heat of an oven; simply by its natural existence yeast produces alcohol and carbon dioxide as by-products.
Now, while it’s not very flattering to compare ourselves with single-celled fungi, consider how we as Christians are activated in the waters of baptism, and how we approach death, amidst the heat of life’s daily concerns. What do we do in the in-between time to bring about the Kingdom of God?
In Baptism, we become members of the Mystical Body of Christ, sharing in his humanity and divinity. Of ourselves, we can do very little, but Christ who lives in us uses us as instruments of his will. We participate in the redemption of the world by cooperating with God in his plan for humanity.
When the tiny mustard seed is planted in the ground, it has no notion of what it can become. When yeast is set to work, greedily feeding upon the dough, it doesn’t consciously labour to produce bread. But the person who sows the seed and kneads the dough knows what will happen. Our task is to let ourselves be used as God sees fit and to trust in his purpose for our lives.