Training for the Kingdom

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Jesus put before them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches."

 

He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened."

 

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

 

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it."

 

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad."

 

"So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

 

"Have you understood all this?" They answered, "Yes."

 

And he said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old."

Matthew 13: 31-33, 44-52

What a reassuring message. Finally everything will be sorted out. Shades of grey will be gone and everything will be clear. Evil will be gone. Darkness will disappear. Only the good and the light will remain. And so it is at the end of the age when the angels come. What the people of God have been yearning for over the aeons will finally happen.

 

The pleas of the psalms will be heard. The words of the prophets will ring true. The parables will touch us and their message become clear. We will know the kingdom of heaven and we will understand.

 

The world will be entirely at peace. Oppressors and tyrants and those who manipulate power over others will be gone. Hunger will be gone. Homelessness will be gone. Disease will be gone--all disease including COVID-19, or any other lurking microbe that can attack any single person or spread to shut down the entire globe, will be gone. Worry will be gone. No more anxiety. No more depression.  Everything that leads into darkness and brokenness will vanish. It will be like heaven… It will be the kingdom. And, yes, it will be the kingdom of heaven.

 

But we know not when. We don’t know when. We’re like the householder. We’re keeping watch.

 

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Jesus tells us in his teachings how amazing this will be. He tells us of the importance of keeping the vigil. Keeping the faith. Always moving forward, always in hope.

 

“It’s like a tiny mustard seed,” he says. A mustard seed is so small, we might not even take notice. “But, look,” he says, “look at how great a tree it grows.” “The mixture of yeast sifted with flour, look," he says, “how it multiplies and what sustenance it brings.” Each tiny particle is even smaller than the mustard seed.

 

If you’re on a quest in search of a gem, this is the best kind of wisdom of all. It’s a treasure to be protected. Jesus says that too.

 

There is something engaging about the parables of the kingdom. There’s something that draws you in. How beautiful, peaceful, reassuring and encouraging are the words. They paint an ever-expanding picture in only a few short sentences. And they draw you in to explore.

 

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If a person chooses just to read it as a story, it’s just a story. It’s a nice story but it’s just a story. It’s passive. If you let the mind wander, let the parable touch you, you can enter in. The parable becomes part of you. And it is active.

 

So, let your imagination wander. What do the parables of the kingdom touch within you? Just let go a bit and enter in. 

 

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There's no rush to it. It's not a quiz. It’s a journey. There is no one ‘right’ answer. It’s an invitation. It’ll be different for everyone. It may even bring different insights from one day to another. It is an invitation to engage. It is an active endeavour. It’s a journey.

 

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Jesus says that there are treasures, treasures that lie hidden and as yet undiscovered. A person may not even notice. So Jesus invites you in.

 

What lies hidden within that is worth more than anything else?

 

Where is the mustard seed within? Where is the mixture of yeast with the flour within? Where is the pearl within?

 

And what are they?

 

What are they in your experience, in your understanding, in your journey of faith, in your journey along the pathways toward the kingdom?

 

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“This is training for the kingdom,” Jesus tells us. It’s an exercise in engaging, an exercise in learning and an exercise in discovering. It’s active.

 

And Jesus adds, “It’s learning what you treasure and bringing it out the new and the old"—training for the kingdom.

 

So I too invite you to ponder. I invite you into discovering.

 

Where is the mustard seed within? Where is the mixture of yeast with flour within? Where is the pearl within?

 

And what are they?

 

What lies hidden within that is worth more than anything else?

 

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