Part of God’s plan – Tuesday, 30th week in ordinary time – Lk 13:18-21
Compared to the other synoptic Gospels, the Gospel of Luke has just two parables that focus on the kingdom of God. Unlike the Gospel of Matthew and Mark whose parables on the kingdom focus on the contrast between the smallness of the beginning and the greatness of the end product, the parables of the kingdom in Luke focus on growth. It is growth that is at the heart of the parables on the kingdom in Luke’s Gospel.
The two parables must be placed in its larger settings. Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem and the disciples by now have become painfully aware of the opposition that Jesus has faced and will continue to face. The two parables are thus given by the Lord to afford these disciples the hope that they seek. All will not be lost and the kingdom will not fall by the way but will grow. Ironically the Lord uses two examples both of which are very different from each other.
In the first case the kingdom of God is compared to a mustard seed planted by someone in his garden. The mustard seed was often planted by farmers in Palestine and could produce a tree 30 feet tall. In time, this seed becomes a tree, large enough to shelter the birds of the air. In the scriptures birds represent diverse human beings who find refuge in Gods kingdom. The Gospel of Luke which is Gentile friendly gives hope to the disciples, not only will the kingdom grow it will be a kingdom which will welcome all ( this is an important theme in Luke’s Gospel). The parable held a promise for Christians down the ages. This tiny seed now in danger from the forces of opposition will surprise every one with its growth.
The second parable is a bit complex to understand for it deals with the effect of leaven in flour. Leaven occurs about ninety-eight times in the Bible; about seventy-five times in the Old Testament and about twenty three times in the New Testament. In the scriptures leaven was seen as corrupting. It is always used in a negative sense. Here in lies the message for the disciples; God’s kingdom exists with the presence of evil and yet it grows.
The Gospel of today gave hope to the disciples as it does for us. God has a plan for his kingdom and we are all part of that plan.
Fr Warner D’Souza
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