Have you ever seen a mustard seed?
Once while I was food shopping, I bought a hunk of cheese mostly because it contained whole mustard seeds that I could pluck out and display in my classroom. (I suppose I should mention at this point that I teach courses on the Bible to teen-agers for a living.) I always knew they were tiny – but when I saw them I realized how really tiny they are. Even compared to other seeds.
At some point after staring at them for awhile (I had some time on my hands) it occured to me – the mustard seed was likely the smallest, most miniscule thing Jesus saw on a regular basis. (I’ll grant you that in His divinity Jesus would have understood quantum physics, but not in His humanity.) So the real point of the opening parable in Luke’s gospel would be this – you don’t need a lot of Faith to become an effective instrument of God’s power. Any amount – even a negligible bit – will do.
This should make us all feel better. We certainly can manage that little bit, by the grace of God, can’t we? Isn’t the very act of getting up on a morning when the swirl of troubles and worries that surround us seems particularly pressing and giving it our best anyway an act of Faith? Faith that things probably aren’t as bad as they seem at that moment? That sometimes the good guys really do win? That our best efforts, despite how it sometimes (often?) seems, really do matter in the end?
“How long, O LORD? I cry for help but you do not listen.” So goes the prophet Habakkuk’s lament – and perhaps our own. Yet if today each one of us can take a moment to notice the “mustard seed” size portion of Faith we really do possess we might discover a wonderful truth – the Holy Spirit does abide with us and we do possess a power beyond our abilities to fully comprehend. Then we can truly rest in the words with which God gifts the prophet a bit later in the first reading: “If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.”
What blessing in your life have you been overlooking lately that becomes breathtakingly clear when seen through the filter of a mustard size portion of Faith?
Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)
(You can purchase copies of my full-length treatments of the scriptures at www.twentythirdpublications.com )