Sixth Sunday after Epiphany
The kingdom of Heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; which is the least indeed of all seeds, but when it is grown up, it is greater than all herbs and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and dwell in the branches thereof (Mt. 13.31-35).
Nothing was smaller or more humble in its beginnings than the kingdom of Heaven, the Church founded by Our Lord on Peter (“Cephas” which is “rock” plain and simple in the original Aramaic used by Our Lord). When Our Lord ascended into Heaven, the Church was composed of an insignificant group of twelve men, gathered about a humble Woman, Mary; but this first nucleus possessed so powerful a vitality that in a few years it spread into all the countries of the vast Roman Empire. The Church, from a very tiny seed, sown in the hearts of a Virgin Mother and of poor fishermen, became little by little through the centuries a gigantic tree, extending its branches into all regions of the globe, with peoples of every tongue and nation (cf., the Old Testament prophecies: Is. 2.2-4; Mich. 4.1-3; Is. 60) taking shelter in its shade.
The Church is not merely a society of men, but of men who have for their Head, Jesus, the Son of God; the Church is the whole Christ, that is, Jesus and the faithful incorporated in Him and forming one Body with Him (cf., Eph. 1.22,23; Col. 1.18). The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ of which each of the baptized is a member. To love the Church is to love Jesus Christ; to work for the extension of the Church is to work for the increase of the Mystical Body of Christ, so that the number of His members may be filled up and each may contribute to the splendor of the whole. All this is summarized and asked of the Father in the brief invocation: Adveniat Regnum Tuum (Thy Kingdom come).
Perhaps there is but little that the lay faithful can do for the extension of the Church as this work is proper to the hierarchy of the Church. Let them, at least, do that little; contributing their labor but always under the guidance and direction of their Pastors not corrupted by the leaven of Vatican II ecumenical “disorientation” (cf., our posts “The Great Tribulation” and “Our Lady and the New ‘Catholic’ Orientation”) on the one hand, and the leaven of Sedevacantism (cf, our post “On the Sedevacantist Position: A Reply”) on the other.
The Parable of the mustard seed makes us consider not only the expansion of the Kingdom of God in the world, but also its development in our hearts – a development, however, that is not determined by what we “think” and “feel” about our growing filial relation to God. Our Lord said: The Kingdom of God is within you (Lk. 17.21). Yes, in us too this wonderful Kingdom began as a tiny seed, a seed of grace: the sanctifying grace which, in a hidden and mysterious way, was sown in us by God, through the ministration of His Church, at Baptism, and the actual grace of divine inspirations and of the Divine Word (written or by oral tradition, cf., 2 Thess. 2.14) which Jesus the heavenly Sower, has scattered plentifully in our souls. This little seed has germinated slowly, it has sent down ever deeper roots, it has grown progressively, penetrating our whole spirit, until it has conquered us for God, until we have realized the need of saying: Lord, all that I have, all that I am, is Yours; I give myself wholly to You. I want to be Your Kingdom.
To be entirely the kingdom of God, so that He is the only Sovereign and Ruler of the heart, so that nothing exists in it – its affections, delights, and desires – which does not belong to Him or is not subject to His rule (the traditional teachings and moral precepts as laid down by the Church) is the ideal of a soul that loves God with perfect love. But how can we attain to the full development of this kingdom of God within us? The second parable which we read in today’s Gospel tells us: The Kingdom of Heaven is like to leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal until the whole was leavened. Here is another very beautiful image of the work grace must accomplish in our souls: grace has been placed in us like leaven which little by little must increase until it permeates our whole being and divinizes it entirely. This belies the notion of the “Bible-only” sectarians that once you “believe in your heart” that Jesus is your Savior you are already “saved” – grace at that moment already permeated your whole being and divinized you entirely: “born again”. Grace, the divine leaven, has been given to purify, elevate, and sanctify our entire being, with all its powers and faculties unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4.13); only when this work – that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus (Col. 1.28) – will have been brought to completion, shall we be entirely the kingdom of God.
Let us reflect further on the great problem of our correspondence with grace. This divine seed, this supernatural leaven, is within us; what can prevent it from becoming a gigantic tree, capable of giving shelter to other souls; what can impede the leaven from fermenting the whole mass, if we remove all the obstacles opposed to its development, if we respond to all its motions and requirements?
Adveniat regnum Tuum! Let us pray for the absolute coming of the kingdom of God in our hearts.