Our reading from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel (17:22-24) offers us impressive yet subtle clues as to how the Kingdom of God is and how it is designed to affect us. I know of skillful gardeners who can get sprigs, torn from rosemary or similar plants, to develop their own roots to start new plants. But, their success rate is far from being 100%. Referring to His universal plan of salvation, God boasts that He can take the topmost branch of a cedar; tear off a tender shoot; make it sprout roots; and bear abundant fruit with100% success rate! In the context of salvation history/Kingdom of God, He also states that, He alone, can both wither up a healthy tree and make a withered tree bloom again!
As a corollary, let me call attention to an easily overlooked, yet encouraging aspect of God’s plan of salvation: Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it, every winged thing in the shade of its boughs. (Ezekiel 17:23)
We shall keep all this in mind as we let Jesus add to the picture of the Father’s action in our life with two, seemingly ordinary, simple images of a barley seed and a mustard seed. Both images are used to explain to us HOW the Kingdom of God operates. “This is how it is with the Kingdom of God…” The farmer, i.e. each one of us knows not how. Most likely we will die before we can get a decent understanding of how God operates.
For instance, concerning the Kingdom of God, how can we reconcile His will that everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth(1 Timothy 2:4)with the sinful actions of those who do not seek the truth?
What is crucial for us is to dwell on the nature of the seed so that as we inch closer and closer to the inscrutable mind of God we humbly desist from attempting to figure Him out.
Jesus invites us to remain firm in the certainty of the power of the seed. The seed is both insignificant and filled with life; weak and most potent; seemingly dormant and yet packing amazing life-generating energy. The seed of God’s Word is sown in us by the ALL-mighty who can tear off a tender shoot from the topmost branch a cedar; make it sprout roots; and bear abundant fruit. He can also wither up a healthy tree and make a withered tree bloom again! Therefore, we can rise every day and go to bed every night always filled with confident humility that allows our God to be God. The wisest course of action for us to take is to let the seed reveal to us all its life-generating power without our interference and to accept that the Kingdom of God is, operates and affects us in times and ways beyond our control.
With this attitude of time-tested humility we will discover how God is truly our Daddy working His marvels, mostly, in the ordinariness of daily life. Also the second parable, the one about the mustard seed planted in a garden, complements what God had foretold in our reading from Ezekiel. If He can make a withered tree bloom again, He can certainly make one of the tiniest seeds become a 25, 30-foot tree [which] puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade. (Mark 4:32)
So, we have here another reminder that we should desist from trying to figure God out or attempt to solve unsolvable quandaries about His design and His plan of salvation. Jesus points out the aspect of inclusiveness of the Father’s Kingdom. He does it intentionally because he knows how deep our hubris runs and how elitist it makes us, although to different degrees, yet all suffering from the burning desire to be special and deserving of distinctive treatment.
In veiled fashion Jesus tells us that the Father alone can make His Kingdom selective and all-inclusive at the same time. And this is how He alone, in His unmatched wisdom, manages to fulfill Ezekiel’s prophecy: Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it, every winged thing in the shade of its boughs. (Ezekiel 17:23)
We remember that: A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. (Matthew 13:3-4) The birds that, for a time are considered being the enemies, who steal the seed, are welcomed to dwell in the shade provided by the large plant grown from such a tiny seed!
God conquers His enemies by welcoming them with open arms!
From this reflection of God’s Word it seems wise of us to get up every morning and to retire every night with the abiding certainty that our God will remain way, way beyond our ability to fathom and even less to sway.
However, Jesus assures us that humble acceptance of this fact should fill us with docility, peace of mind and irresistible hope.Thus, we shall go about our work, according to our calling in life, with confirmed assurance that God’s Kingdom is tiny and very large, of modest size and imposing, invisible and majestic, selective and all-inclusive, all at the same time; and this must suit us just fine because this is what Jesus tells us about the Father’s inscrutable ways.