The Kingdom of God in Parables
It is parables galore in this Sunday’s Gospel! Jesus often taught in parables, and this classic definition of a parable by biblical scholar C.H. Dodd might explain why: “At its simplest, the parable is a metaphor of common life, attesting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought.”
Though many, the parables in this Sunday’s Gospel have one theme in common: the fulfilment of God’s kingdom. The kingdom of God will exist in its fullness at the end of the world and God alone will bring it about. But let us not forget that God’s Kingdom also exists on earth, though not yet completely fulfilled. We see this in the Lord’s Prayer, when we say: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” To bring about the fulfilment of the Kingdom, God uses us. We are God’s instruments here on Earth.
When Jesus speaks of the tiny mustard seed growing into the huge shrub, he is telling us that God’s Kingdom is here. The same idea is behind the parable that asks us to imagine the small amount of yeast that enables the whole mass of dough to rise. Like tiny seeds and small bits of yeast, the Kingdom of God comes into being and gains strength and prominence. The reign of God exists where people treat each other with justice, as Jesus treated all the people. If we value God’s people, no matter their appearance, social stature or accomplishments, we are acting with justice. The Kingdom of God comes closer to fulfilment when we do deeds of justice. In other words, as instruments of God on earth, we either nurture the growth of the Kingdom or we impede its progress.