The Mystery That Means You

By Kristen Gunn

A Reading from the Gospel of Luke 13:18-30

18 He said therefore, “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what should I compare it? 19 It is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in the garden; it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches.”

20 And again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God? 21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.”

22 Jesus went through one town and village after another, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” He said to them, 24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. 25 Once the owner of the house has got up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evildoers!’ 28 There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrown out. 29 Then people will come from east and west, from north and south, and take their places at the banquet in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”


I’m becoming increasingly convinced that all good Christian teaching is simply a working-out of the consequences of the Incarnation. So, too, is all true Christian living, as we see in the unfolding of Christian history. As St. Athanasius famously wrote, “The results of the incarnation of the Savior are such and so many, that anyone attempting to enumerate them should be compared to a person looking upon the vastness of the sea and attempting to count its waves.”

It isn’t possible for us to tally up the results of God’s benevolence to us in creating and recreating us through his Son, and yet everything started with a single act, a single fiat, a single Word, a single person. Who could have seen that coming?

I think a fair reading of today’s gospel is that Jesus is the mustard seed who fell into the ground and became a tree — and today, in his Church, that seed has become a greater living organism than anyone (especially among his contemporaries) would have thought possible. “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a single grain,” he said. “But if it dies it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).

He is the seed. He is the leaven. We are the branches. We are, baptized and baked in the Spirit’s fire, the bread offered to the Father and giving life to the world now seated at his table.

As Augustine taught his newly baptized converts about the Eucharist,

It’s the mystery meaning you that has been placed on the Lord’s table; what you receive is the mystery that means you. It is to what you are that you reply, “Amen,” and by so replying you express your assent. What you hear, you see, is “The Body of Christ,” and you answer, “Amen.” So be a member of the body of Christ, in order to make that “Amen” true.

Kristen Gunn is a lay leader and has an M.T.S. from Nashotah House Theological Seminary. In her free time she enjoys learning Latin and kayaking as much as possible.

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Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Newala – The Anglican Church of Tanzania
Trinity Episcopal Church, Vero Beach, Florida


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