Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Today's readings led me to reflect on what one might call the 'big picture' AND the 'small picture'.
In one sense, the Gospel and discipleship seem like the big picture. On the other hand, the small picture may just be how our lives are actually 'given' to us…moment by moment. Life is a series of small moments and, in this sense, each action or deed matters a great deal. In fact, even the smallest of deeds are significant in the realm of eternity.
In the passage from Jeremiah, God instructs the prophet to obtain a loincloth and hide it in a cave. Later, when told to return, he finds the cloth rotted, symbolizing the effect of the people's idolatry and disdain for God. God says, "…let them become like this loin cloth, good for nothing". In the Gospel, Jesus speaks in parables to the crowd of people. In the first, he compares the mustard seed—the smallest of seeds—with the Kingdom of Heaven and, in the second, speaks of the effect of a small amount of yeast on a much larger measure of flour. Jesus's parables illustrate the results of preaching the Gospel and living the life of authentic discipleship. The contrast between these readings can hardly be demonstrated in a more poignant manner. Can we even imagine God thinking the way we live our lives as good for nothing? Now Judah's overall existence was one of rebellion and selfishness; the life God intended for them had been completely rejected. The parables relate several different ideas, not only about the Kingdom and discipleship in general, but of how our individual lives are so crucial to bringing about the reign of God. If we imagine ourselves as a tiny measure of yeast or a miniscule seed, it is surely possible to further imagine the effect we, as individuals, have on the preaching and living out of the Gospel. Even the smallest of actions matter in terms of eternity. Although easy to forget, we have been chosen to do exactly that, one precious moment at a time. Chances are that few of us are literally called to preach or be declared the perfection of discipleship. But even if we are, it will be how we actually lived our moment to moment lives (seemingly, the smallest of our deeds) that matter in the context of eternity.
Just like the mustard seed, when it comes to God's Kingdom, even the smallest of 'deeds' eventually grows to eternal significance. Living moment to moment is how our lives are given to us here on earth—and that is the way our discipleship is expressed. Considering how often we fall short, this is a very good thing! Every small moment is an opportunity to think or talk or act like Jesus. How very simple this is and how difficult to do! And even if we do not witness the results of individual deeds, our faith assures us they carry eternal significance. This day, let us maximize the value of each moment we are given. May we recognize the eternal significance of the smallest of deeds. By the grace of God, may even those smallest of our deeds bring eternal glory to God.
- Gail Lyman