10.31.17 Tues. wk. 30 – O.T. (I)
1st Rdg . Romans 8: 18 – 25
Gospel – Luke 13: 18 – 21
Then he said, “What is the kingdom of God like? To what can I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that a person took and planted in the garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and ‘the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.’”
Again he said, “To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed [in] with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened.” The Gospel of the Lord.
Fr. Mike Murphy Leavened In Holiness
†Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to yeast that is mixed with flour. Now elsewhere in the Gospel of Luke, †Jesus also proclaims: “The Kingdom of God is here.” (Luke 17:21) It is present within us. So how does “The Kingdom of God” within us grow to maturity, to its fullness? What is the yeast that we must add to our lives to grow in holiness?
Many Christian spiritual authors have identified ‘the yeast’ with ‘the virtues’. Unless we integrate the virtues into our daily life, we will not be able to mature in the spiritual life. The virtues are absolutely essential! As yeast is introduced to the flour from the outside, so the virtues are implanted within us from the Holy Spirit. The virtues are God’s gift to us so that we can grow in holiness, so that we can become saints; can grow in maturity and in the image and likeness of God. But, do we truly understand and appreciate this generosity of God who has given us such a wonderful gift as the virtues so that we can become holy?
And there are those who think differently about how creation works. They think that when God creates us, He sets us off on our own. Then when we die He decides to come and meet us. And when He meets us, He has a list of all our sins and failures in life, and He confronts us with that list. Then we hope to convince God that we are sorry so He will show us mercy. There are people that really think that’s how creation works.
How sad to live with that cynical image of God, that He leaves us on our own to make all of our mistakes and then He comes pouncing on us when we die. That is not the true image of God at all, because God’s gift of grace is poured into our lives every single day. We need only to open our hearts and our souls to receive this grace. The gift comes in the form of the virtues that help us live every day with grace, and to overcome the obstacles that we all experience in life, the obstacles to holiness.
Here is the form of ‘the yeast’ that is given to us – “Peace, joy, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, generosity, self-control” (Gal.5:22); prudence, temperance, justice, fortitude faith, hope and love. St. Claude Colombiere in the 17th century observed at this: “The Christian religion demands quite lofty and quite heroic virtues of those who profess it. To believe blindly, what one cannot conceive, to love with all one’s strength what one has never seen, and to hope firmly against all kinds of hope. This is what Christianity calls us to, and what God demands of each one of us. (from: Claude La Colombiere Sermons, vol.1; Northern Illinois University Press, 2014)
As the woman in the parable had to knead the yeast into the flour, it takes effort on our part to integrate the virtues into our daily life. But sometimes we become discouraged when we are not connecting with those virtues because of our human failure and weaknesses. So the grace of God to overcome (these struggles and failures) is always present to build us up. When we can’t grasp a virtue – what does God do – He gives us more grace. He gives us grace upon grace. In fact, He gives us an additional grace to respond to the initial grace that we could not grasp. That’s how much He loves us.
This is the truth as St. Paul reminds us in our first reading: “The sufferings of the present time are nothing compared to the glory of God to be revealed in us”. (Rom.8:18) “For in hope we were saved.” (Rom.8:24) We must trust in the love and compassion of God every single day, even when we fail, even when we make mistakes, even when we sin. Trust in God. We don’t have to be afraid of God. Just trust and say: “I’m sorry.” – “I’m sorry.”
A 14th century manuscript described the Lord this way:
“He abides patiently,
He understands mercifully,
He forgives easily,
He forgets utterly”
The Lord who gave up His body as a sacrifice for our sins, who gives us our “daily bread” (Matt.6:9ff) to strengthen us on the journey, will continue to provide us with the grace necessary to be leavened in holiness” As we celebrate the feast of All Saints tomorrow, let us be encouraged by the heroic men and women who have gone before us. They were not perfect by any means. They simply took the leaven of virtue, made it part of their life, and were raised to holiness.
In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.