Mustard Trees and Oak Trees


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Christ also said, “With what can we compare the Realm of God, or what parable will we use for it? This new Realm of God is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.” – Mark 4:30-32
mustard tree

Many a cynic has pointed out that the all-knowing Christ made an error.  They note that the mustard seed is not the smallest of all seeds.  And they are correct.  Yet, they are shallow in their understanding.  God always speaks within the context of the knowledge of that particular time.  And as Time goes by and our human understanding grows, God continues to translate former understandings into more perfect understandings.

I would think that if Christ were teaching in the context of our times and with our wider knowledge of the planet, this parable might begin … “This new Realm of God is like an orchid seed, the smallest of all the seeds on earth.  But then again … the rest of the parable loses the power of its metaphor.”  No, even now … though we know there are smaller seeds than that of the mustard tree … the mustard seed serves better the teaching.

Know if Christ were teaching in Southwest Florida where I live … I can imagine Christ teaching this lesson this way.  “Consider this tiny acorn.  Plant it in the ground and one day it will grow into a wide spreading oak with its branches serving as mighty arms.  In its shade, old men will rest, on its mighty branches, children will climb, and it will produce enough acorns to seed a forest.  Such is the possibility and potency in small beginnings.”

Throughout scriptural history, one can observe the writers of the scripture translating God’s truth into the context of the clearer knowledge of the readers and the needs of maturing cultures.  Yet, when we imprison the truth of God within the confines of those former times, we fossilize the Truth of God which seeks to become ever clearer, deeper, and fuller.

Always in Christ’s Service,

Fr. Charitas de la Cruz


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