I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
When the Lord delivered Zion from bondage,
it seemed like a dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter,
on our lips there were songs. (R./)
The heathens themselves said:
'What marvels the Lord worked for them!'
What marvels the Lord worked for us!
Indeed we were glad. (R./)
Deliver us, O Lord, from our bondage
as streams in dry land.
Those who are sowing in tears,
will sing when they reap. (R./)
They go out, they go out, full of tears,
carrying seed for the sowing.
They come back, they come back, full of song,
carrying their sheaves. (R./)
Jesus said, "What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches."
And again he said, "To what should I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened."
Deep within us is planted a seed that will grow to full flowerin; there is an inner "yeast" to transform and ferment us as yeast does in the dough that is baked into fresh bread, the staff of life. The whole created world eagerly awaits the revelation of what is already stirring within it, and of ourselves as children of God.
Paul's letter to the Romans sparkles with a magnificent hope. He believes that that every human being carries the seed of eternal life, that we are called to be children of God. A grace of transformation has come through Jesus Christ for all of humanity. Even the billions of non-Christians in the world also carry within themselves the seed or image or eternal life with God. The goodness and humanity in the pagan world, and among Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims or the strong monotheistic religion of Islam, represent a yearning for what is yet to be revealed.
To live our lives to the full, we must nurture the hidden mustard seed of divine possibility within us. Like the woman who kneads the yeast into the dough that will be baked into life-sustaining bread, we can do our part to contribute freshness, life and dignity, wherever we are.
Both parables in today's gospel, one about a man (gardening) and the other about a woman (baking), have the same focus. Each draws a contrast between something that starts very small and the great effect it can have. A tiny mustard seed produces a tree offering shelter to nesting birds. A tiny pinch of leaven ferments a large amount of flour. Jesus says that the kingdom of God works like that. In the eyes of God what starts very small can bring a rich result.
Even small acts of kindness can have an impact for good our expectations. Small initiatives in the service of the Lord can be very helpful for others. We need not think that unless some church event is big and impressive it counts for little. the two images in today's gospel suggest that even small actions and initiatives, unnoticed by most people, can help promote the kingdom of God.