Yeast and the Kingdom of Heaven

In today’s Gospel from St. Matthew, Jesus gives several images to help his disciples understand how we transform the world to kingdom, how God’s word can spread throughout the world – the growth of the mustard seed and the effect of yeast on flour.

Never having seen a full-grown mustard bush, let alone on in which the “birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches,” it is the second of those images that resonates with me – the yeast that leavens the whole batch of wheat flour.

We periodically bake bread and for me one of the most marvelous parts of that activity is the “magic” of watching the yeast at work. Mix yeast, water and flour, take the little ball that results and put it aside for a few hours. When you come back and look at it, it has doubled or tripled in size. Sometimes even more.

I remember one time when we mixed up a batch, and went out for longer than we expected. When we walked back into the apartment we then lived in, what popped into my head was “The Yeast that Ate Brooklyn Heights” – bread dough had come out of the covered bowl in which it was rising and had spread over the floor in all directions. The dough was everywhere.

So it is with our efforts to spread the Gospel. Whenever we preach the Gospel by our words or deeds, we drop a mustard seed here, a little yeast there. Each of us, spreading seeds of the Kingdom that will grow, “until the whole batch [is] leavened.” It may take some time before we see the effect, but it will happen. Like my dough that went out of control, the Gospel will spread in ways we can’t possible imagine. That’s Jesus’ promise. And that’s pretty exciting.

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