“The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed… it is the smallest… and becomes the greatest of all shrubs.”

Mark 4:31-32

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Mark 4:26-34

In the parable of the mustard seed, Jesus says that the Kingdom of God can be small like a mustard seed – or grow into a big tree. We might ask ourselves: Why is the Kingdom of God not always the same size?

The Kingdom of God is not a place or a country. Rather, the Kingdom is (for lack of better words) a state or condition, the state or condition of God’s ruling as king. Surely, you may retort, God’s rule is always the same: it’s everywhere.

Let us reflect on this: Normally, what is ruled by a king is governed by the will of the king. However, in God’s case, there is another consideration. How much of God’s will does any Christian (any of us!) live out? Everything is subject to the will of God, but not every Christian who counts as being in the Kingdom of God fulfils God’s will.

So, in this sense, God’s Kingdom can change size. When we go against God’s will, the reign of the Kingdom is diminished. When we live with racist, homophobic or misogynist attitudes, we choose to lessen the reign of the Kingdom. When we act in ways that are dishonest or corrupt, we diminish the reign of God. On the other hand, the more we act in the opposite way, the greater the Kingdom of God is in our midst.

This is another way we can understand Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed. When Christians let the seeds of love, generosity, honesty, integrity, mercy, and compassion grow in them, then that littlest seed of God’s Kingdom grows and grows until it becomes like a great tree that produces fruit for all around us.

Take time today to reflect on what actions and attitudes you hold that diminish the Kingdom of God. Ask the Lord for insight and mercy. Then ask the Lord to help you develop actions and attitudes that will grow into a big tree producing fruit and shade for all around you and allowing the Kingdom to be something great in and through you.

King of the universe, Lord God,

Grant me the wisdom and insight to see how my attitudes or actions can discredit or make your Kingdom a reality. You created me in your image and likeness. Help me to live that image and likeness. And in so doing, allow your Kingdom to flourish in me and for those around me. Help me to become a large tree that offers fruit to anyone who comes near me.


Fr Russell Pollitt SJ

Fr Russell Pollitt SJ is the Director of the Jesuit Institute and is interested in the impact that communications technology has on society and spirituality. He regularly comments on South African Politics and various issues in the Catholic Church.

director@jesuitinstitute.org.za @rpollittsj
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