A shepherd’s staff has a crook for drawing the sheep away from danger, and a blunt end for prodding them toward places they would rather not go. This week’s texts embrace the tension between the two in the shepherd’s role.
On first reading, the two parables in today's Gospel text seem to make less and less sense. In the first, a sower seems to leave the seed to fend for itself. In the second, a tiny mustard seed becomes a bush large enough for its branches to provide shelter for birds. (In Matthew's telling, it's a full-size tree!) When we stop to think about it, both parables are preposterous.