Today, brethren, you have heard how all the greatness of the kingdom of heaven has been compared to a grain of mustard seed. This analogue is something so small, so tiny; indeed, it is the tiniest of tiny things. How can it contain such great power? The Lord says that it does: “What is the kingdom of God like, and to what shall I liken it?”
When He says: “What is it like?” He shows and works up the attitude of one who is searching. He alone is the Word, the Fountain of knowledge, the River of copious speech; He waters the hearts of all, opens their powers of perception, augments their talent. Is he now having difficulty in finding a comparison?
Brethren, let us not be easily troubled over the Lord’s words. For if “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men,” this tiniest creature of God is found to be something more magnificent than all the greatness of the world. Oh, if we would only sow this grain of mustard seed in our minds in such a way that it will grow into a great tree of knowledge, and through the full height of understanding be raised toward the sky; that it will spread out into all the branches of the sciences; that it will burn our tingling mouths with the pungent taste of its seed! Thus it will burn for us with all the fire of its seed, and break into flame in our heart, and through the pleasure of taste it gives us take away all the insipidity of our ignorance.
As the text says, the kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed, because the kingdom is brought by a word from heaven, is received through hearing, is sown by faith, takes root through belief, grows by hope, is diffused by profession, expands through virtue, and is spread out into branches. To these branches it invites the birds of heaven, that is, the powers of spiritual insight. In those branches it receives them in a peaceful abode…
The full perfection of a kingdom remains and consists in the kingdom of heaven. Christ is the kingdom of heaven. He was planted, like a grain of mustard seed, in the Virgin’s body. He grew into the tree of the cross spread throughout the world. He emitted the pungency of its seed when He was abraded by His Passion. Consequently, by a mere touch He gave savor and seasoning to anything which sustains life. When a grain of mustard seed is still whole, its power lies hidden inside it.
Christ is the mustard seed, because in his case, the full greatness of God appears in miniature inside the tininess of man… He became all things in order to restore all men through Himself. Christ as man received the grain of mustard seed, that is, Christ as man received that kingdom of God which he as God had always possessed. He cast the seed into His garden, that is, into his spouse, the Church… The Church is the garden, spread through her worship over all the world by the plow of the Gospel. She is a garden enclosed by the goads of her discipline, and cleared of all rank weeds by the labor of the Apostles. She is a garden beautiful to see because of the young trees of the faithful, the lilies of the virgins, the roses of the martyrs, the verdure of the confessors. She is fragrant with unfailing flowers.
Accordingly, Christ cast this grain of mustard seed into His garden, that is, because of the promise of His kingdom. The seed had its roots in the Patriarchs, was born in the Prophets, and grew in the Apostles. In the church it became a great tree, and through the gifts it produced numerous branches which the Apostle enumerates when he says: “To one is given the utterance of wisdom; to another the utterance of knowledge; to another the gift of healing; to another working of miracles; to another prophecies; to another the distinguishing of spirits; to another various forms of tongues.”
In those branches the birds of heaven, not those of air, rest in the security of faith after their flight upon the wings of wisdom and prudence. You, too, be attentive, if you wish to be free from fear of earthly beasts, if you wish to avoid the rapacious birds and voracious vultures; that is, the birds of the air. All these are spiritual vices. Raise yourself up above the earth, and abandon earthly goods. Take to yourself the silver-colored wings of the Prophet’s dove, take the wings shining with the brilliance of the divine Son. In this way, fly away as a gold-colored dove, to rest in such great branches, to be there as a dove which can no longer be allured into any traps, strong because of your flight, and free from care because of such an abode.