|Today’s Gospel’s two little parables contained quite large insights. A single mustard seed and a bit of yeast increasing, enlarging are symbols used by Jesus to give a tiny hint of what the “Kingdom of God” is meant to become.
I have the delight to prepare couples for the sacrament of marriage. One aspect I really enjoy is their sharing with me how they met. One woman told me she, and two of her recently-graduated friends, were sitting in a lounge in Las Vegas and one of her friends noticed that a young man across the room was eyeing her. Her friend notified her so she slyly and slowly glanced that way and the fellow winked once. The rest is their history, including a set of twins two years later. Just a wink and a tentative response and look what happened! So many marriages begin with a hint, a glance, a mustard-seed moment.
In class the other day, a female student spoke of “God Winks” as experiences she has as the beginning of her faith in God. She mentioned a few of them which caught her eye or ear and she took them seriously, personally and wonderingly. They led her deeper, inside and not merely remained in her head.
God-winks or hints are subtle. We could ask about why the fellow who winked, didn’t just first come right over and and kneel down and propose! Why didn’t he send her over a drink, or some gambling chips? No relationships which last seem to begin “littlely.” Jesus is speaking of something universal, big-time, a “kingdom” which He began as one man, in a quite-tiny country and with several small-minded mustard-seeded men. We could ask why God didn’t just come right out and say it! Why these hints, these little winks which do not always catch the eye or ear or heart?
Jesus invited responses, personal reception of His invitations. He did and does, come right out and say it, but he also comes right in and says “it” beyond complete understanding. True relationships are based in mystery and the continuation of that relationship increases as it grows. That married couple is living that mystery and increasing in fruitful love. The Kingdom of God is more than understanding or reception of hints and glances.
The object of intimacy of any kind is fruitfulness, increase, branches and leavened bread to be available, shareable, welcoming. How does it all happen? When we mix yeast with flour we do not stand around watching it puff up. When planting seeds we do not sit down to experience just how the seeds spread roots. The Kingdom is taking time within us, as individuals and as a people of the Kingdom.
How do we know when and if we are in? The answer has to do with how each of us is a “winker” or “Hint.” The answers are in our branchings-out, our increasing the revelations of God’s presence and presents. Faith is the reception of, not ideas, but identity and the freedom to increase God’s Kingdom, and not our own.