TUESDAY 6TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME GOSPEL COMMENTARY:
THE LEAVEN OF THE PHARISEES (Mk 8:14–21).
Tuesday, 6th week of Ordinary Time
THE LEAVEN OF THE PHARISEES
The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. Jesus enjoined them, “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. When he became aware of this he said to them, “Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread? Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?” They answered him, “Twelve.” “When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?” They answered him, “Seven.” He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
- 15-16 In another Gospel passage — Lk 13:20-21 and Mt 31:33 — Jesus uses the simile of the leaven to show the vitality of his teaching. Here “leaven” is used in the sense of bad disposition.
- In the making of bread, leaven is what causes the dough to rise; the Pharisees’ hypocrisy and Herod’s dissolute life, stemming from their personal ambition, were the “leaven” which was poisoning from within the “dough” of Israel and which would eventually corrupt it.
- Jesus seeks to warn his disciples about these dangers, and to have them understand that if they are to take in his doctrine they need a pure and simple heart.
- But the disciples fail to understand: “They weren’t educated; they weren’t very bright, if we judge from their reaction to supernatural things. Finding even the most elementary examples and comparisons beyond their reach, they would turn to the Master and ask: ‘Explain the parable to us.’ When Jesus uses the image of the ‘leaven’ of the Pharisees, they think that he’s reproaching them for not having purchased bread. . . . These were the disciples called by our Lord. Such stuff is what Christ chose. And they remain just like that until they are filled with the Holy Spirit and thus become pillars of the Church. They are ordinary people, full of defects and shortcomings, more eager to say than to do. Nevertheless, Jesus calls them to be fishers of men, co-redeemers, dispensers of the grace of God” (J. Escrivá, Christ is passing by, 2). The same thing can happen to us. Although we may not be very gifted, the Lord calls us, and love of God and docility to his words will cause to grow in our souls unsuspected fruit of holiness and supernatural effectiveness.
- In this Gospel scene, Jesus warns his disciples to guard against the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy and the rejection of the salvific message of Jesus; and, the leaven of Herod which is moral corruption. The term leaven (or yeast) in these passages refers to the radical principle from which one’s actions arise.
- It also shows us how the disciples Jesus called were men who do not possess an intellectual formation such that they did not understand even the most basic ideas which Jesus was telling them: confusing the leaven of the Pharisees and that of Herod with the fact that they did not bring bread with them.
- Knowing their thoughts, Jesus invites them to reflect on the past multiplication of the loaves and fishes, and calls them to be confident, while recommending vigilance to avoid contamination with evil.
- St. John Chrysostom states: “If you are obedient to the voice of God, you know that he is calling you from heaven; and if you are disobedient and of crooked will, it would not be enough even if you heard him physically. How many times did the Jews did not listen to His voice? The preaching of Jonas was sufficient for the Ninivites. The Pharisees, however, remained harder than stones in the midst of prophets and continuous miracles. On the same Cross a thief got converted just by seeing Christ (Lk 23, 42) while those beside him who had witnessed the Crucified resurrect the dead to life, insulted him. “(Homily in honor of St. Paul).
- Dear brethren in Christ, God gave us the gift of freedom and it is up to us to correspond or not to the invitation of His grace. Depending on our response, we shall be retributed either with reward or with punishment accordingly. May we not put to waste the grace which God continuously grants us out of His loving and paternal Providence.
- At the same time, we should be reminded that God chooses whomever He desires, independently of the characteristics of the person, so as to make His grace shine forth through his poor instruments. Therefore, we should always be grateful to God for the unmerited gift of vocation for in spite of our shortcomings, God has put his trust in us to be His co-redeemers.
Stay safe and God bless! Fr. Rolly Arjonillo
TOPIC: HOW MANY TIMES HAS GOD COME TO YOUR RESCUE?
In today’s gospel reading, Jesus was with his disciples in a boat. They had a minor commotion, perhaps, blaming each other for not thinking about bringing enough bread for all. They only had one loaf of bread to be shared by everyone. Jesus reminded them that they had just come from feeding four thousand with a few loaves of bread and some small fish, and leaving behind seven big baskets full of leftovers. And previously, five thousand were fed with five loaves and two fish with twelve baskets of leftovers. So why worry?
READING FROM A SAINT’S WRITING
We know the Father through creative and incarnate wisdom
The only-begotten Son, the Wisdom of God, created the entire universe. Scripture says: You have made all things by your wisdom, and the earth is full of your creatures. Yet simply to be was not enough: God also wanted his creatures to be good. That is why he was pleased that his own wisdom should descend to their level and impress upon each of them singly and upon all of them together a certain resemblance to their Model. It would then be manifest that God’s creatures shared in his wisdom and that all his works were worthy of him.
For as the word we speak is an image of the Word who is God’s Son, so also is the wisdom implanted in us an image of the Wisdom who is God’s Son. It gives us the ability to know and understand and so makes us capable of receiving him who is the all-creative Wisdom, through whom we can come to know the Father. Whoever has the Son has the Father also, Scripture says, and Whoever receives me receives the One who sent me. And so, since this image of the Wisdom of God has been produced in us and in all creatures, the true and creative Wisdom rightly takes to himself what applies to his image and says: The Lord created me in his works.
But because the World was not wise enough to recognise God in his wisdom, as we have explained it, God determined to save those who believe by means of the “foolishness” of the message that we preach. Not wishing to be known any longer, as in former times, through the mere image and shadow of his wisdom existing in creatures, he caused the true Wisdom himself to take flesh, to become man, and to suffer death on the cross so that all who believed in him might be saved by faith.
Yet this was the same Wisdom of God who had in the beginning revealed himself and his Father through himself by means of his image in creatures (which is why Wisdom too is said to be created). Later, as John declares, that Wisdom, who is also the Word, became flesh, and after destroying the power of death and saving our race, he revealed himself and his Father through himself with greater clarity. Grant, he prayed, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
So now the whole earth is filled with the knowledge of God, since it is one and the same thing to know the Father through the Son, and to know the Son who comes from the Father. The Father rejoices in his Son, and with the same joy the Son delights in the Father and says: I was his joy; every day I took delight in his presence.
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