Baking a loaf of bread is a fascinating experience. There are so many aspects of the process where something can go wrong most having to do with the way that the yeast or leaven in the loaf is treated. If the leaven is not distributed throughout the loaf properly it will fail to rise fully. If the liquid used is too cold, the yeast will not rise properly. If the ambient temperature is too hot or too cold there will be a similar problem. What does this image tell us about the Christian life as indicated by today’s Gospel?

Perhaps the most important image here is that the leaven or yeast must be evenly distributed throughout the dough or the bread will not rise. Jesus is telling us that we cannot be part-time or half this and half that sort of Christians. If we truly want to be His disciples and members of the kingdom of God, then it is an all or nothing decision that we have to make. We cannot surrender part of our life to the Gospel truths and keep the rest back for our own use. God is either Lord of all or He is not Lord at all! This is an adage someone used in a talk once and I cannot forget it as it captures this aspect of the Christian life of discipleship in a way that is easy to understand and indisputable.

Another image that can be drawn from the parable is that just as dough without the leaven is useless (it will come out of the oven literally as hard as rock), so to the Christian life without the leaven of faith is nothing – it will be merely a reflection of the secular world in which we live. There will be nothing to taste and nothing to make it attractive to desire.

Thirdly we can reflect upon the nature of kneading which is the means by which the leaven is spread throughout the dough. This is relatively hard work indicating that the life of faith will have its own sufferings and struggles. This is not a reason to reject the offer of faith but a reality check so that we know what we are getting ourselves into. Just as bread is essential in the diet of the people of that part of the world, so hard work and even suffering are constitutive parts of the life of a disciple of Jesus.

I am sure that I have not exhausted the image yet but I will leave any other lessons to be discovered by your own reflection.

What else can I learn from this and the other images of the Kingdom of God revealed in the parables of Matthew’s Gospel? How can I implement what I learn into my daily life?

Holy Spirit, help me to be able to see the messages contained in the parables of the Gospels for my life. I pray for the grace of being able to see what is hidden from those with no faith so that I might help to reveal the truth for the entire world to see and believe.