Leaven: False Concerns


Mark 8: 14-21
Jas 1:12-18 / Ps 94: 12-15, 18-19

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.

They had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And He cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” They concluded among themselves that it was because they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you conclude that it is because 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 still not 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. We are so concerned about the corruption in the different agencies in our government, the political power of a few politicians, that we are forgetting the real power of prayer, and our total reliance on God. If only the whole country would turn to God in prayer, and let His will prevail in the governance of our nation, who knows what miracle this faith and confidence in Him may bring about? Why all this griping and long debates on the state that our country is in? Why can’t we just be grateful for the assistance that we have been getting from other countries, the investment opportunities of our robust economy, the natural resources that we take for granted that other countries don’t have, the resiliency and peaceful nature of our people, and the relative respect that our countrymen still enjoy in other countries? In spite of everything happening in our country today, let us 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 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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