July 31, 2023
Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today
He spoke to them another parable. “The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.” Matthew 13:33
Yeast is powerful. Though it often accounts for only about 1% of a loaf of bread, it causes that loaf to more than double in size. Of course, it also has the amazing effect of turning the dough soft and flexible as it rises. Without yeast, the dough would remain stiff and much smaller in size. The dough would not become the bread it was meant to be.
The Church Fathers offer many interpretations of this short, one-sentence parable. Some say that the three measures of flour represent the spirit, soul and body into which the Gospel is inserted. Others say the three measures of flour represent either three different kinds of persons or three levels of fruitfulness in our lives. The yeast is understood by some as the message of the Gospel in the Scriptures and by others as charity that must permeate our lives and the world as a whole. Of course, the parables of Jesus, as well as every teaching contained within the Scriptures, offer us many levels of understanding and meaning that are all correct and consistent with each other. One of the most important questions to ponder is this: What does God want to say to you through this parable?
If you consider yourself to be the three measures of flour, and the yeast to be God, His holy Word and His gentle but clear Voice speaking to you, in what concrete ways do you see your life rising as a direct result? How do you see yourself becoming that which you are intended to be as a result of God entering your life? And do you see the effect as one that is truly transforming and even exponential?
Sometimes the Word of God has little to no effect on our lives. That, of course, is not the fault of the Word of God; rather, it’s because we do not allow God to do His transforming work. For yeast to work, the dough has to sit still for a while. So in our lives, for God to do His work, we must allow Him to gently and powerfully work. This process requires that we internalize all that God speaks to us. Then His actions must prayerfully be permitted to work within us, and we must allow the change to be slow and certain in accord with His divine plan.
Sometimes we can also become impatient with the workings of God. Again, the yeast takes time to work. If we are impatient with God’s grace, then it may be like taking the dough and kneading it over and over before it even has a chance to work. But if we are prayerfully patient, allowing God to do His work in our lives according to His will and in His time, then little by little we will experience the transformation that He initiates.
Reflect, today, upon this short but powerful parable. See yourself as that dough and see God and His action in your life as the yeast. As you sit with that image in a prayerful way, let God reveal how He wants to work within you and how He wants to transform you. Pray for patience. Trust that if you receive His transforming Word into your soul, then He will do what He wants to do. And trust that if this happens, you will indeed become the person God wants you to become.
My transforming Lord, You desire to enter deeply into my life and to permeate all that I am. You desire to change me, little by little, making me into the person You want me to become. Please help me to be attentive to all that You desire to do in me and to patiently await the transformation that You have already begun. Jesus, I trust in You.
A great book to help you pray and discern according to the methods of Saint Ignatius:
Probing the Depths:
Ignatian Lessons and Meditations Arranged According to the Liturgical Year
Saint of the Day – Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Priest