Sunday, June 14, 2009

On this morning’s mustard seed (Mark 4.26-34)…

Yes, it is true: a mustard seed is indeed an image of the kingdom of God. Christ is the kingdom of heaven. Sown like a mustard seed in the garden of the virgin’s womb, he grew up into the tree of the cross whose branches stretch across the world. Crushed in the mortar of the passion, its fruit has produced seasoning enough for the flavouring and preservation of every living creature with which it comes in contact. As long as a mustard seed remains intact, its properties lie dormant; but when it is crushed they are exceedingly evident. So it was with Christ; he chose to have his body crushed, because he would not have his power concealed…

Christ became all things in order to restore all of us in himself. The man Christ received the mustard seed which represents the kingdom of God; as a man he received it, though as God he had always possessed it. He sowed it in his garden, that is in his bride, the Church… In the Church it became a great tree putting forth innumerable branches laden with gifts. And now you too must take the wings of the psalmist’s dove, gleaming gold in the rays of divine sunlight, and fly to rest for ever among those sturdy, fruitful branches. No snares are set to trap you there; fly off, then, with confidence and dwell securely in its shelter.

From a sermon of Peter Chrysologus, quoted in Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament II, Mark, edited by Thomas C. Oden and Christopher A. Hall (Downer’s Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1998), with thanks to Vicki K Black.

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