Luke's The Mustard Seed

31 October 2006: Tuesday of the 30th Week in Ordinary Time
Luke 13: 18-19: Luke’s The Mustard Seed

I always like watching cooking shows. Today, I chanced upon Rachel Ray’s 30-minute meals, and she used the yellow mustard paste for a turkey burger. What they used for burger sauces comes from the garden herb, but the Gospel does not talk about this vegetable that we Filipinos, use for sinigang sa miso. The Gospel refers to the Eastern field plant that grows to be a 7-12-foot tree. Flocks of birds feast on the back seed of the mustard tree.

The parable of the mustard seed can be found also in Matthew. There is however a difference. Matthew emphasizes small beginnings --- just as a small mustard seed grows into a tree. Luke, however, tells us that the seed grows into a tree, and the birds make their nests on it. In the East, the symbol of a great kingdom is a tree and the birds that nests on it are lesser nations that seeks the empire’s protection. Thus, for Luke, the Kingdom of God will grow into a vast empire, and all nations will come together and find protection in God.

We can see from this parable that Luke’s point of view is universal: the Kingdom of God has room for everyone. It is this vision that makes Luke different from Matthew. Let us apply Luke’s point in our lives.

First, the Kingdom of God has room for a wide variety of beliefs as long as they stemmed from Christ they too possess a facet of God. Our Christian brothers who has faith in Christ, but may not practice or worship the same way as Catholics, should be treated with respect and love.

It is also true within the Church. There are many methods of prayer. Some pray the Charismatic way --- with dancing and singing and speaking in tongues. Some pray quietly and meditatively on a mat. Some pray while walking and riding the jeepney. I have been giving the Retreat in Daily Life (RDL) to students, and some of them expressed that they have actually meditated on the scriptural texts while walking from one building to the next.

Second, there are many ways to the Kingdom of God. Many people share different experiences of conversion and faith. Some have experienced God through traumatic and shattering events. Some have experienced God through friends and families. Some have experienced God through nature. Some have been inspired by great lives or by the common folk. Whatever road we trek --- as long as we have as our horizon Christ -- we will soon arrive at his doorstep.

Finally, there is room for all kinds of people. There is room for the poor, the rich, the famous and the unknown. There is a place for eccentrics. There is a place for a wide variety of personalities. In other words, all nations and all kinds of people are accepted in the Kingdom of God. There is only one thing that is illegitimate: distinctions and exclusivity.

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