The parables about the mustard seed and the yeast stand against those who might be called “apocalyptists.” An apocalyptist thinks that God cannot succeed in a world that might be described as “a valley of tears.” There is so much sin and violence and despair, an apocalyptist thinks that God only has two choices: 1) a direct dramatic intervention by God outside of this time; or 2) only after the present age has ended and God does something in the “new age.”
Jesus, however, has a different vision of how God works: not violently outside of time or after time, but imperceptibly in time.
It reminds me of when I was a little boy…second grade, I think…and we each were given a seed to grow a bean plant. We each had a little pot and after carefully placing the seed in the soil, we watered and waited. The first day…nothing. The second day…nothing. The third day…nothing. And so on. Then the weekend came and when we went back to school on Monday, we had all forgotten about the bean plants. But then, one day, someone noticed that all the plants had started to grow. For a time, it looked like NOTHING was happening, but something WAS happening, slowly and imperceptivity.
The mustard seed is so small, and the yeast is so tiny, but they are capable of transformation, slowly and imperceptivity. For Jesus, the reign of God is happening already amid everyday ordinary surroundings…it arrives, not like thunder and lightning, but like the seed growing or the yeast transforming. May we have the keen sight to see the reign of God happening before our eyes!