He presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”
He spoke another parable to them, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened.”
All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, and He did not speak to them without a parable. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
“I will open my mouth in parables;
I will utter things hidden since the foundation of the world.”
A mustard seed—small and insignificant, but growing to encompass the garden. Yeast—small and insignificant, but enabling the whole loaf to rise. But when we hear “kingdom,” we do not think small and insignificant. We want a mighty kingdom, a quick fix, a strong and sure redemption that makes all things new right now. But the kingdom of heaven is more subtle. The kingdom of heaven moves more slowly, starts more trivially, seems nondescript and irrelevant and altogether unimportant. But the transformation it brings is no less sure, no less complete, no less magnificent. The King of this kingdom is more than able to bring it to pass; he is its Maker, Keeper, and Lover. To him, everything existing is no more than a mustard seed; he is more than able to bring his kingdom subtly.
Also He showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazel-nut, in the palm of my hand; and it was as round as a ball. I looked thereupon with my mind’s-eye, and thought, “What may this be?” And I received the answer, “It is all that is made.” I marveled how it might last, for I thought it was so small it might suddenly disappear. And I received the answer, “It lasts, and ever shall last, because God loves it.” And so Everything has its Being by the love of God.
In this Little Thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it, the second is that God loves it, and the third that God keeps it. But what He is who is the Maker, the Keeper, and the Lover, I cannot tell; for until I am fully united to Him, I may never have full rest nor true bliss. That is to say, till I be so fastened to Him, that there is nothing created betwixt my God and me.
—St. Julian of Norwich (1342-1416)