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Friends, today’s Gospel compares the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed. It seems to be a law of the spiritual life that God wants good things to start small and grow over time.

We’re tempted to say, “You’re God. Just get on with it. Do it.” But why would God work the way he does? We might attempt a few explanations. It is a commonplace of the Bible that God rejoices in our cooperation. He wants to involve us—through freedom, intelligence, creativity—in what he is doing. And so he plants seeds, and he wants us to cultivate them.

“Francis, rebuild my Church.” Heck, God could have rebuilt his Church, but he wanted St. Francis to get involved. God could have renewed the spiritual life of Christianity through a great infusion of grace, but he inspired St. Anthony to leave everything behind and go live alone in the desert. 

There’s something else. When things start small, they can fly under the radar for a time while they gain strength and heft and seriousness. And those involved can be tested and tried.