St. Ignatius of Loyola, Priest

Reading Exodus 32:15-24,30-34
Gospel Matthew 13:31-35

“All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.”

Jesus today proclaims two parables about the Kingdom of Heaven. In wanting to understand these parables, we might wonder what exactly the Kingdom of Heaven is. Is the Kingdom of Heaven the realm of Heaven? Is it the Church, or some measure of both the Church and Heaven, or something else entirely, such as the individual Christian’s soul?

Jesus never directly answers this question. But even without defining “the Kingdom of Heaven”, we can say that the kernel of each “Kingdom parable” describes in some way the reality of Heaven, and/or the Church, and/or the Christian’s soul.

Take Jesus’ first parable in today’s Gospel passage. The change from the “smallest of all the seeds” to “the largest of plants” seems more easily applied to the Church and the Christian soul than to Heaven. Tertullian wrote that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church”, a phrase through which we can see how this parable applies to the Church. With God, all things are possible: from a natural death springs supernatural life. Or as the Church prays to the Father in one of the prefaces for martyrs at Holy Mass: by “your marvelous works” “in our weakness you perfect your power / and on the feeble bestow strength to bear you witness….”