Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Ignatius of Loyola no doubt was encouraged if not inspired by the vision of the Kingdom of God presented in today’s readings. In these readings, Matthew describes the kingdom of heaven as a mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds which in turn becomes the largest of all the shrubs in which the birds find a home.
Certainly the founder of the Jesuit order did not place his foundation on pessimism. Thinking of the early works of Ignatius and then when we consider them later in their size and contribution to promoting the Kingdom of God, one can identify these works of Ignatius as an apt examples of something small transforming itself, with the help of grace, to something rather large.
Soon after the order was founded Ignatius sent Francis Xavier to the missions in the East, a single Jesuit whose work became the foundation for the evangelization of Asia and the re-introduction of Catholicism to India. Ignatius’ plans for the Roman College, its beginnings in a small school at first in a dilapidated building on the side of the Capitoline Hill, became the great Roman College, the template for greatest system of education Europe had seen since the fall of Rome. What began with just a small group of companions by his death on July 31, 1556 had grown to almost 1,000 men spread throughout the world.
We are frequently tempted toward discouragement when we look at minimal resources, lack of time, and a world that seems bent on defeating our best intentions. The great saints, like Ignatius, knew that the enemy of our human nature attacks the first faltering steps toward growth. The foe to human progress knows that from small seeds grow great trees.