The Mustard Seed

He proposed another parable to them.
"The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
that a person took and sowed in a field.
It is the smallest of all the seeds,
yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.
It becomes a large bush,
and the 'birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.'"

He spoke to them another parable.
"The kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch was leavened."

Matthew 13:24-43

Keeping on last week’s theme of the ebb and flow of faith, in this Sunday’s reading, Jesus appears to say the appeal of faith is, finally, irresistible. It will work its way imperceptibly but inexorably and only needs the smallest seed to be planted; the most modest amount of starter. 

We like to think we come to our most cherished views by reason.  Professor Jonathan Haidt’s research indicates we really arrive at our firmly held opinions about morality, politics and faith without the conscious use of reason.  We only use reason to justify what we already think.  This is why, according to Haidt, seemingly intelligent, reasonable people can nonetheless disagree so vociferously about critical issues - and arguing rarely seems to help.

Being aware of this dynamic is the best way to govern it in ourselves.  It also indicates argument is not going to be an effective tool of evangelization.  The development of faith is an organic process.  We should be careful not to kill it with too much intervention, no matter how well-intentioned.  If it is true, it will have a life of its own.

Image: The Mustard Plant