Parables Of JesusThe Gospel Of Saint Luke

Parables Of The Mustard Seed And Of The Leaven

Luke 13: 18-21


18 ¶ Then said he, Unto what is the kingdom of God like? and whereunto shall I resemble it?
19 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it.
20 And again he said, Whereunto shall I liken the kingdom of God?
21 It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened.

The two parables make it clear that Christ intended the newly inaugurated phase of the history of our salvation to be the work of ages. His second coming was not to be an apocalyptic end of the world as we know it in weeks, months or just a few years after that first Easter. The world’s faith would grow with time. Christ’s Church would grow, to encompass the whole world. Christ intended the Gospel be preached to everyone the world over and through all subsequent history.

Jesus teaches the disciples these parables to give them confidence. The beginnings of Christianity must have seemed very small, with just a little group of disciples to carry God’s word to the nations, but just as a little mustard seed grows to become a tree, or as a small lump of leaven causes the whole new dough to ferment and rise, so the disciples can believe that the Lord is with them and the preaching of the Gospel will spread despite everything.

The seed, cast into the ground, as it were dies and is buried, then the new life grows. The leaven is hidden in the flour, and the whole of the dough is leavened. The parables anticipate Christ’s death and resurrection. This is their hidden meaning, which will be fully revealed through the events of Easter.

Concluding Prayer

‘In the moments of struggle and tribulation, when perhaps “the good” fill your way with obstacles, lift up your apostolic heart: listen to Jesus as he speaks of the grain of mustard seed and of the leaven. And say to him: “Edissere nobis parabolam – explain the parable to me.” And you will feel the joy of contemplating the victory to come: the birds of the air under the shelter of your apostolate, now only in its beginnings, and the whole of the meal leavened.’ St Josemaria Escriva.