The Yeast of Petty Concerns

Mark 8: 14-21

James 1: 12-18 / Psa 94

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. Then Jesus warned them, saying, “Watch out; guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” They concluded among themselves that it was because they had no bread. Aware of this, Jesus 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 bread 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 petty things like food.

It was precisely because of these trivial concerns that Jesus warned them to “Watch out against the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” The “yeast 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 “yeast 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 God’s Chosen People.

It is no different in the situation our country is in today. First, our apathy had allowed graft and corruption in our government to become an institutional evil. Then the present leadership’s determination to fight the scourge of drugs by extrajudicial measures (without regard to legal procedures) has been met with indifference, if not approval by the majority of our countrymen. As a Catholic country, shouldn’t we be horrified by all the killings being perpetrated with impunity by our government authorities against our people? Perhaps it would be better if the whole country turned 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? 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 still God’s favored people, democratic and free. Let us just pray that all the corruption and killings may stop.

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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