Parables of Jesus


Parables of the kingdom

The yeast

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The yeast

From the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 13, Verses 33

He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is similar to yeast, which a woman takes and kneads with three measures of flour until all the dough has risen".

Parable exegesis - Matthew

Why does Jesus insist on examples and similes on the kingdom of heaven? Why so persistent obstinacy? Because in reality, when he speaks of the kingdom of God or of the heavens, Jesus speaks of himself, of the meaning and consequences of His coming into the world, of the promises and inheritance left to those who decide to follow him on the way to the "Kingdom". Yeast, pearl, mustard grain are images with which the Kingdom of Heaven is identified. What do they have in common? They are all small, they can be hidden, they can grow themselves or make them grow, enrich what surrounds them.

A woman takes and kneads the bread is made with natural yeast, a yeast that traditionally calls "sourdough", generator, new yeast feeder and new bread: a piece of the raw and fermented dough of the previous days ago rise the whole mass of new flour, to which it communicates its flavor; for this precious productive power, the "sourdough" was jealously preserved, handed down from generation to generation and kept alive with appropriate refreshments, which had to be repeated daily producing new bread: "give us our daily bread today", regenerate us daily! Yeast is a living substance, a small quantity changes the "fate" of a dough made of simple water and flour: the dough grows, changes, swells and becomes a real bread.

In the parable, the tiny piece of yeast is hidden and mixed in a huge amount of flour. Three measures of flour, in Greek "sata", represent about thirty kilos! And three measures of flour are also the quantity of flour used Sarah, Abraham's wife, to prepare the bread to offer to the three messengers of the Lord, when they come on a sudden visit.
(Gn 18,6)

Three measures of flour, which will become more than forty kilos of bread, hint at the party and the final banquet. Thus speaks the prophet Isaiah: "The Lord of hosts will prepare for all peoples on this mountain a banquet of succulent foods, a banquet of old wines, of food full of substance, of refined old wines".
(Isaiah 25, 9)

The bread, miraculously leavened, does not promise the advent of the Kingdom of Heaven in a future that we will not see, but in everyday life: it is vital, present next to us every day in the person of Jesus. That is why Jesus encourages the Apostles not to fear to face the world: even if now they are still few, with His help, the Word will spread to the ends of the earth. As yeast makes the dough grow by penetrating it, spreading and mixing with the other ingredients, in the same way the Word, that is, the Son of God, will extend into the Church, and beyond, through the announcement of His followers. In the Old Testament, yeast also represents sin, which "fermenting" contaminates men; here, in the parable of the leaven reported by Matthew, it symbolizes the Gospel announcement; it is no coincidence that Jesus himself invites his disciples to avoid the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Mt 16: 1), a concept reaffirmed with similar meaning also by Saint Paul.
(1 Cor 5: 5-8)

The yeast in this parable depicts the fermenting force that comes from outside the dough, which comes from above, directly from God, to reiterate that the spreading of the Kingdom is the work of God: the disciple has only the task of accepting this "daily bread" and collaborate in the Kingdom announcement.

Il lievito - Luca

Dal Vangelo di Luca Capitolo 13, Versetti 20-21

E ancora: "A che cosa rassomiglierò il regno di Dio? È simile al lievito che una donna ha preso e nascosto in tre staia di farina, finché sia tutta fermentata".