Quarantine Diaries #2: Wheat, yeast, and mustard seed

While watching the mass on Facebook, on what the priest said was the 16th Sunday in ordinary time, and while trying to make sense of the gospel that centered on ingredients, I thought to myself: God must be a baker.

Or He is a chef and our lives are ingredients that undergo various transformations so we can be made dishes and pastries and bread fit for an upcoming banquet. Alone we cannot be ready. But with each other and with His care, we will.

Yesterday’s gospel talked about three parables Jesus had told to a crowd, telling them each illustrates the reign of God.

Parables of ingredients

The first parable is about a man who sowed wheat seeds in his fields, and whose enemy mixed bad seeds with it that when the grains grew, weeds also appeared. When his farmhands asked whether to uproot them, the man told them to let the weeds grow with the wheat. Only on harvest time will they be separated.

The second is about a grain of mustard seed, so small but when grown is “greater than the herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in its branches.”

The third is about a yeast that a woman kneaded into the flour so the dough was able to rise.

Wheat and weeds

Fr. Jerry Orbos, the mass presider, reminded everyone to be careful in judging others as weeds. Quoting Desiderata, he said, “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have the right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

“But remember,” Fr. Jerry added, “if you claim that, don’t forget other people too have the right to be here…No matter how bad it may seem…that’s the mystery of the kingdom of God.”

When I checked what kind of weeds the parable meant, I found they are the darnel, a kind of poisonous weed that looks so much like wheat. No wonder the man decided not to uproot them as farmhands might also uproot the wheat.

But I also wondered, were some people predestined to be wheat while others weeds? Can’t the weeds be wheat? What of free will? What of repentance? Or am I reading too much in this parable?

Wheat and Tares
Wheat and the darnel (Photo courtesy of Free Bible Images)

Brownies and Juday

I’d like to believe that God is a loving God, a forgiving God, even a lenient God.

He is like my Grade 5 home economics teacher, who even though she was expecting chocolate cake from my group after a baking class, just smiled when we handed her brownies. (Somebody forgot to put yeast and baking soda). She graded us, instead, based on the merits of our brownies.

Or God is like Judy Ann who loves her dishes so much that when she finds something wrong with it, she tells the audience, it’s okay it can be fixed, and she always did.

But I’ve also come to realize how we must not take for granted God’s love and leniency. Because His way of fixing us may not be easy.

KBL Catholic

Though I have been raised Catholic, I became one of those KBL Catholics who only go to church to attend weddings (kasal), baptisms (binyag), and funeral rites (libing). And I’ve even been to churches of different denominations to do those. (A priest bluntly called me “nominal” or Catholic only by name. Ouch.)

The only times I religiously hear mass is during the noche buena and media noche masses on TV. Most Sundays I also read Fr. Jerry’s Moments column on the Inquirer.

But because of a series of strange and unfortunate events that happened to me last year, I began to return to the fold.

The big picture

In his homily, Fr. Jerry said, as if speaking directly to me, “Whatever you’re going through with your life right now, you have to trust God as He sees the big picture.”

He added, “Everything happens for a reason and a mission.”

He recommended instead for us to “think God” not negativities and to think kindly of people; to “talk God” and to talk to God; to “take God” and to take his goodness to others just like the yeast and the mustard seed; and to “thank God.”

This jolted me: here I am whining of being on isolation when there are many things to be grateful for. First, that I have a roof over my head, a bed, and a toilet. Second, that I have my cousin and her kids and working students who are sending me delicious meals three times a day. Third, that I am healthy. Fourth, that I have this time in my hands. Fifth…I could go on and on.

So I end this with a prayer: Dear God, help us so we can all be wheat that is fit for food, a yeast that makes a difference, and a mustard seed that grows.

Featured photo: Mustard wheat bread (Courtesy of Mixing Bowl Kids)

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