Friends, today’s Gospel features one of Jesus’ most beloved parables: that of the mustard seed. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.”

How does God tend to work? What does the building up of the kingdom typically look like? From the very small to the very great—and by a slow, gradual process. God tends to operate under the radar, on the edges of things, quietly, clandestinely, not drawing attention to himself.

In the City of God, St. Augustine opined that the Church is like Noah’s ark, a small ship bouncing on the rough seas of history. As the great empires come and go, as the waves of history crash noisily against the shore, God’s kingdom is quietly advancing, unnoticed but inevitable.

One of my very favorite images from C.S. Lewis speaks to this principle. How, he asks, did God enter history? Quietly, in a forgotten corner of the Roman Empire—sneaking, as it were, behind enemy lines.