Leaven: Our False Concerns

Mark 8: 14-21
Gen 6: 5-8,7:1-5,10 / Psa 29

Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?
(Mark 8:16-17)

How does one fathom God’s kingdom?
Its mysteries who can perceive?
Let’s pray for the Spirit’s wisdom,
To open our hearts and believe.

Now they had forgotten to bring bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. Jesus cautioned them, saying, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “We have no bread.” And being aware of it, Jesus said to them, “Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to Him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to Him, “Seven.” And He said to them, “Do you not yet understand?” (Mark 8: 14-21)

Reflection

First, the Pharisees wanted proof of His divinity, asking for signs and wonders (Mk.8:11); now His own apostles were discussing among themselves about not having brought enough food along with them in the boat — as if they had no eyes to see that Jesus had multiplied a few pieces of bread to feed thousands of people. Jesus must have felt so exasperated with their lack of faith and shallow perception. Instead of setting their minds on the plans and mission of the Messiah, they were more concerned about trivial things like food.

It was precisely because of these material concerns that Jesus warned them to “Watch out against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” The “leaven of the Pharisees” was their pretense for moral uprightness and their knowledge of the law, which they imposed like a heavy burden on the Jews. The “leaven of Herod” referred to the Herodians, a political group who supported Herod and the Romans, and who were an even heavier burden on the people for the taxes they imposed. The “legalese” of the Pharisees, and the political influence of the Herodians were leading the Jews away from their covenant with God and the teachings of the prophets. The Jews were forgetting their reliance on God, and their privileged status as the Chosen People.

It is no different with our situation today. With so many concerns besetting us each day, we are forgetting the power of prayer, and our total reliance on God. During this season of love, let us remember the words of St. John: Perfect love casts out fear (1 Jn 4:18). If only the whole country would turn to God in prayer, and let His will prevail in acts of love, who knows what miracle this faith and confidence in Him may bring about? Instead of griping and quarreling about the state that our country is in, why can’t we just be grateful that we are spared of the catastrophes happening in other countries? Let us thank God for the natural resources that we still have, which we take for granted; for the resiliency and peaceful nature of our people; and for the respect that many of our talented countrymen enjoy in the world stage. Let us take up the slack wherever we find it, and do our share in uplifting our poorer neighbors. In spite of everything happening in our country today, let’s not forget that we are still the only Catholic country in Asia, and may be the reason why we are God’s favored people, democratic, happy and free.

Forgive us, Father, when we forget our blessings whenever we are faced with problems and difficulties, that are actually insignificant compared to those of other people. Remind us that it is not our abilities and capabilities that have made us what we are today, but Your love and grace, because as Christians, we are privileged indeed to be Your chosen people. Amen.

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