Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed and its growth into a tree. The point is that the Kingdom of Heaven starts with the smallest beginnings, but no one knows where it will end.
In the Old Testament a common picture is of a great empire is that of a great tree with the subject nations depicted as birds finding rest and shelter in its branches.
The parable today tells us that the Kingdom of Heaven begins very small but that in the end many nations will gather into it.
In following Jesus, there must have been times when the disciples despaired, those moments when Jesus was forced to leave a village or town because the people were unhappy with His challenging message.
They must have also wondered what they could accomplish as they were few in number and common folk.
In the parable today Jesus is telling His followers and us that we should not be discouraged, that we must continue to serve and minister to others. That even with small beginnings the Kingdom of Earth can become the Kingdom of Heaven.
One of the great stories of the Christian Church is the story of Telemachus. He was a hermit of the desert, but something told him – the call of God – that he must go to Rome. He went. Rome was nominally Christian, but even in Christian Rome the gladiatorial games went on, in which men fought with each other, and crowds roared with the lust of blood. Telemachus found his way to the games. Eighty thousand people were there to spectate. He was horrified. Were these men slaughtering each other not also children of God? He leaped from his seat, right into the arena, and stood between the gladiators. The prefect’s command rang out; a sword flashed in the sunlight, and Telemachus was dead. Suddenly there was a hush; suddenly the crowd realized what had happened; a holy man lay dead. Something happened that day to Rome, for there were never again any gladiatorial games. By his death one man had done something that cleansed and Empire.
Today we celebrate the feast of Joachim and Anne who according to tradition were the parents of the Blessed Mother and the grandparents of Jesus. They were as some would describe them ordinary folks, unremarkable, yet let us not forget the remarkable family that resulted from their love.
Let us never forget that the seed of love can indeed become the tree of great things.