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.
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 can flower in surprising ways. It is the inner grace that transforms us, rather as in baking the yeast changes dough into fresh bread, the staff of life. The whole world, says St Paul, eagerly awaits the fulfilment of what is already stirring within it, as children of God. Several texts in this chapter of Romans sparkle with magnificent, exciting possibilities. It seems that every human being in our planet carries the seed of eternal life, of hopes beyond understanding.
This is not a privilege unique to the Christian faithful. Countless millions of others throughout the world also carry within themselves the seed or image or hope of eternal life. The extraordinary goodness which we find among the pagan world of Buddhists or Hindus, or the strong monotheistic religion of Islam, represents and inward groaning for what is yet to be revealedm when God's Kingdom reaches its full flowering.
To treasure our place in the Kingdom of God, we must reverence the hidden mustard seed of divine possibility in our lives. We must be like the woman who so kneads the yeast into the dough that other people's lives rise with freshness, life and dignity.
Both of the images in today's gospel, one about a man gardening, and the other about a woman baking, have the same focus. They both contrast the initial smallness of something to the huge impact it goes on to have. A tiny mustard seed grows into a tree which provides a home for the birds of the air. A little piece of leaven transforms a significant amount of flour into bread. As images of the kingdom of God, Jesus seems to be saying that in God's sight what is very small can turn out to be very significant.
Even our smallest acts of kindness can result in good beyond anything we might imagine. Small initiatives taken in the service of the Lord can create an opening for the Lord to work powerfully. We can be tempted to think that unless some event within the church is big and impressive, it does not count for much. But today's gospel suggest that it is the small actions, the tiny initiatives, what goes unnoticed by most people, that can become the bearers of the kingdom of God.