Sixth Sunday after Epiphany

This Sunday's Gospel gives two parables that provide metaphors for the growth and spread of the faith: that of the mustard seed, and the rising of dough.

The parable of the mustard seed

At Lauds we consider the first, with the Benedictus antiphon:

Símile est regnum cælórum grano sinápis, quod mínimum est ómnibus semínibus : cum autem créverit, majus est ómnibus oléribus.


The kingdom of heaven is like unto a grain of mustard seed, which is the least of all the seeds, but when it is grown up, it is greater than all herbs.

The reference is to the black mustard tree, which grows to nine feet, and once established tends to take over the surrounding area.

St Jerome comments:

"The kingdom of heaven is the proclamation of the Gospel, and that knowledge of the Scriptures, which leads to life, and whereof it is said to the Jews, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. Therefore is this kingdom like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed it in his field. By the man that sowed it in his field, many understand to be meant the Saviour, because he is the Sower that sows in the souls of believers ; others understand every man that sows good seed in his own field, that is, in himself and in his own heart.  Who is he that sows, but our own mind and soul, which take the grain from preaching, and by nourishing it in the soil, cause it to sprout in the field of our own breast?  The preaching of the Gospel is the least of all doctrines.  He that preaches, for his first lesson, God made man, Christ dead, and the stumbling-block of the Cross, receives at first but little credit."

Rising dough

At Vespers, the leavening of the dough:

Símile est regnum cælórum ferménto, quod accéptum múlier abscóndit in farínæ satis tribus, donec fermentátum est totum.


The kingdom of heaven * is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, until the whole is leavened.

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