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Jesus tells us that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. It is the smallest of all the seeds yet it grows into the largest of trees. So, what is a mustard tree? It is a big, oversized weed, thickly branched, and ugly. If you have a mustard tree in your yard, you are going to rip it out and replace it with a hydrangea. Why would Jesus compare the kingdom of heaven to a weed? Can’t he come up with something a little more majestic like a great cedar of Lebanon or the glorious Californian Red Wood? Why a mustard tree? Because in the Kingdom of God, even a weed has potential to greatness.
There is an eagle chasing a small sparrow. Just before the little bird becomes lunch it sees the mustard tree and darts inside. The eagle says, “I’m not going into the mess. I will be impaled by one of the branches.” Look at a rabbit. It has nothing to protect itself. It doesn’t have any wings to fly, it can’t climb trees, and it doesn’t have sharp scary teeth, but it does have a mustard tree. Even a weed has potential to greatness.
Remember Moses. Before God called Moses, he was tending the flock at Midian. The reason why he lived in Midian was because he was a runaway slave with a rap sheet for murder. You cannot get lower than that. Picture God looking through his files to find someone who has the potential to march into Egypt and free a nation without any weapons. “Oh, here is someone: a murderer and a coward all in the same person.” Wouldn’t you think that God would want someone with more qualifications? Couldn’t God come up with someone better than Moses? Why Moses? Because in the kingdom of God, Moses has potential to greatness.
So there is Peter in his sinking boat full of fish. He is so overwhelmed by the catch that he drops to his knees and tells Jesus, “Depart from me for I am a sinful man.” Peter wasn’t lying. I have no doubt that Peter was telling the truth. Peter was a businessman and a sailor. Couldn’t Jesus have walked to the nearest synagogue and found some humble servant who had been doing the will of God the entire life? I am sure there was someone with better qualifications at the temple in Jerusalem. Why Peter? Because in the kingdom of God, Peter had potential to greatness.
So the dishonest steward gets caught stealing and then he becomes the hero of the story. How does that happen? Bible people have been scratching their heads for centuries trying to figure out why Jesus uses a cheat, a dishonest man as a model of Christian behavior. So, what does the guy do? He gathers all the people he knows that are in debt and reduces the debt greatly. Why is that important? In the ancient world, if you had debt you could not manage, they would sell your kids, your wife, even your grandmother into slavery, and send you to jail until you paid off the debt. This guy is a hero to many people, like the mustard weed is a hero to vulnerable and weak animals. He takes a pile of wealth and uses it to help people. Might as well put some of that wealth to good use. That is the point of the story.
We used to have a shredder in the office. Now that everything is paperless, we use the delete button. Sometimes we use it so much that we think we can just delete people out of our lives when we have no use for them, like Moses, or Peter, or a dishonest steward.
I was working on a new program. There is nothing more stressful than a new program that does not work. So one of the guys dropped by the office and asked what I was doing. I told him and he came in and fixed the problem. That is why everyone likes this guy. He will drop everything to help you. We love him for that and then we turn around and get mad when he is late for meetings. Well, you cannot have it both ways.
All of us are flawed. That is why we belong to the kingdom of God. In the kingdom, the flawed have potential for greatness.Back to All Homilies