Catholic Men’s Daily Devotional and Bible Study – 17th Week in Ordinary time – Monday – Matthew 13:31-35
Christ continues His “Sermon of Parables” about the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 13. The Parable of the Mustard Seed is the third time Christ refers to seeds and growing to describe the Kingdom.
Christ again demonstrates His understanding of nature (which He created), the common experiences of living in the Middle East and His mastery of Scripture. The “mustard seed” was a common rabbinical proverbial reference to the smallest seed. Christ describes that the mustard seed grows into the greatest of shrubs, becoming as large as a tree that birds can nest in it. The parable builds on Old Testament references to a coming kingdom that would be a great tree that gathers many nations (Ezek 31:2-13; Dan 4:17-18).
The Parable of the Mustard Seed is powerful on multiple dimensions. The parable inspires hope among the disciples that Christ’s Kingdom will come despite starting small (Acts 1:15 numbers the disciples after Christ’s Ascension at only 120!). Like the mustard tree provides a home and savory seeds that feeds the birds, the Church will be home to multitudes (birds is an allusion to the Gentile nations), feeding them with most savory of food, the Eucharist. For the individual, the parable reveals that while most start with a small faith, with time and persistence of prayer (see Luke 11:1-13) every soul can grow into sainthood.
Awed by Jesus Christ – Son of God, Christ uses common themes (of trees, in this example) that were “planted” in the Old Testament. Divine Teacher, Christ reveals the Kingdom of Heaven with innovative parables that still draw men two millennia later. Divine Prophet, Christ accurately describes the worldwide growth of the Church. Divine Leader, Jesus inspire His disciples with parables that instill lasting hope, overcoming uncertainty about the promise of the Kingdom.
Being a Heroic Catholic Man
1) From the small band of only about 120 early disciples, the Church has over 1 billion members; there are another billion+ Christians who are not yet in full communion with Christ’s Church. Marvel at Christ’s divine confidence and accurate prediction of a worldwide Church.
2) Dwelling on the spreading cultural decay and the turmoil and apostasy in the Church can lead to despair. Return to hope, holding firm to Christ’s promise that the Kingdom of Heaven continues to grow in mysterious ways.
3) It is difficult to develop the virtue of patience in a convenience culture where books/videos can be seen “on-demand” and purchases can be delivered the same day. Virtue and the spiritual life takes time to develop. Pray for Christ to give you patience and persistence in the pursuit of sainthood and His Kingdom.
Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers
Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Joyful Mysteries
Daily Devotion – The Souls in Purgatory
Virtue of the Day – Prudence
Corporal Work of Mercy – To give drink to the thirsty
Spiritual Work of Mercy – To instruct the ignorant