The Kingdom of heaven is here and now as well as after we die. It is here and now in how we continue to try to do God’s will. I give the baptism instructions to parents here at St. John’s parish. The first sacrament we receive, usually as an infant, is baptism. Those two parables fit here: we start so simply and helpless but with God’s help we develop into a large bush or leavened bread to serve others. But this growth has many setbacks. Our sinfulness and selfishness get into the way. This idea is where the first reading applies.
All last week we reflected on God’s assistance to his people suffering first slavery in Egypt, then faithlessness in the desert. Glory is given to God when he persuades Pharaoh to let his people go free. The plagues, especially the death of the firstborn, were too much for Pharaoh. Moses led his people through the Red Sea, only to spend forty years of wandering in the desert.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1221) states the Exodus story is the seminal old testament text prefiguring the baptism for each of us. We go from our birth with original sin through the waters of baptism to spend all our lives, sometimes doing God’s will, but too often sinning as the Israelites did with the golden god they worshipped. Our goal also is a promised land – for us it is heaven itself and the fruits of our salvation won for us by Jesus.
In the gospel story Jesus reminds us of how we receive this gift of salvation, the Kingdom of heaven. We go through all our life, at times doing God’s will, but all too often failing in our sinfulness by our weaknesses and selfishness. We are now only an insignificant member of the Church, yet when we live a good life following and imitating Jesus, we become like the smallest of seeds that becomes like a large bush giving shade or the yeast that leavens the bread..
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