Today St Mark’s Gospel introduces us to some of the parables of Jesus. “Parables” are like poetry. When one reads a poem it, like any work of art, contains many meanings. Every person who reads a poem, or hears a poem, draws a personal meaning from it. A “parable” is like that! When we hear a “parable” we can either become personally involved in its possible meaning, or we can simply dismiss it as just a quaint story.
Jesus taught in “parables” because he knew that human beings, like us, cannot grasp the profound goodness of God. It is beyond our comprehension. Nevertheless, a “parable” forces us to “think outside the square.” When it comes to knowing God, we Christians are people who “think outside the square.”
In today’s Gospel Jesus is reported to have invited people to think about their own lives as being reasonably insignificant when it comes to the big scheme of things in the world. He uses the image of a “mustard seed” – the smallest of all seeds. Yet, because we acknowledge the work of God, even though we can’t fully comprehend that wonder, we realise that each of us holds the potential for greatness. It is the “greatness of God.” The mustard seed, if open to the gifts of nature, becomes the greatest of trees. Similarly, if we are prepared to embrace the gifts of God (We call it “Grace”), we become eternally great, like God.
Of course non-believers find our openness to “Grace” somewhat absurd. Unfortunately some people do not “think outside the square” when it comes to God – We do, and that is why we believe in God’s greatness and our own share in God’s greatness. We believe in God because we are willing to immerse ourselves in the poetry of God.