Parables and Empowerment

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

Psalm 55 (Morning)
Psalm 138, 139:1-17(18-23) (Evening)
Neh. 4:1-23
Rev. 7:(4-8)9-17
Matt. 13:31-35


Parables and Empowerment

This morning Matthew shares with us the parables of the mustard seed and the yeast. The mustard seed is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it is planted, it becomes a tree, the largest of the garden plants. How miraculous that something so small can grow so large! Then we are told about the woman who mixed yeast into sixty pounds of flour to make dough. I find it hard to imagine her working a batch of dough that large without modern equipment, but she only needs a very little bit of yeast to transform all sixty pounds!

As we think of things we want to change in our lives and in our world, these parables can give us great hope. A very small effort can have major effects. Think of Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus. The Butterfly Effect from quantum physics is a modern-day parable that provides the same message. The scientific term is “sensitive dependence on initial conditions,” and the metaphor used is that a butterfly flapping its wings in Fayetteville, Arkansas can affect the weather in Tokyo.

One of the “initial conditions” that is essential if we are trying to transform ourselves and our world is a belief that transformation is possible. Jesus provides us with simple examples from nature that remind us that very small things can create powerful changes. What changes would you like to see in your life? In the world? What is your mustard seed or yeast that might help bring about this transformation?


Written by Judi Neal

Judi Neal is the founding director of the Tyson Center for Faith and Spirituality in the Workplace at the University of Arkansas (retired). She has focused her career on workplace spirituality and is teaching a course at St. Paul’s called Noble Purpose. In her spare time she writes and plays music with her husband Ellis Ralph in a duo called Good Medicine, and with her all-woman band She’s Us. She learned to play electric bass when she turned 60.

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