Daily Readings Reflection for 2/15/11

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Scripture: Lectionary 336: Genesis 6:5-8. 7:1-5,10. Psalm
29:1-2,3-4.3.9-10. Mark 8:14-21

Today’s Readings

Mark again gives us an incident of Jesus with his disciples. They are in a
boat on the Lake of Galilee and probably are seeking a deserted place from
the crowds. The fact that both feedings of the five thousand and the four
thousand are within the periocope indicate that they must be exhausted from
dealing with so many people. There are also the threats and taunts that
Jesus is experiencing from those who do not accept his authority or his
message. Danger already looms ahead in the very short active ministry of
Jesus. In Mark it may be no more than a year!

Jesus speaks to them about Herod Antipas and the religious leaders who
oppose him. He uses the metaphor of yeast in reference to them. Bad yeast
spoils the whole batch. Moreover at Passover time yeast becomes a symbol
of that which has to be removed throughout the house–dirt, dust, yeast
that indicates anything that is fermenting. Unfortunately, the disciples
do not realize what Jesus is saying and they refer to the fact that they
have no bread in the boat. Jesus was not talking about his or their needs
for bread on this occasion. He was teaching them about awareness and
prudence when it comes to dealing with the wily and the powerful in their
country. Trouble lies ahead from them too as his followers.

They take the yeast literally and not in the way Jesus uses it. They are
puzzled by this statement of Jesus who is telling them that yeast in
persons like Herod is the lurking of evil within his heart and it will lead
to power plays that inflict injury and even death upon those who bother
him. Jesus calls Herod a sly fox and does not wish any encounter with him.

St. Paul gives us a Christian midrash or practical interpretation of what
yeast means during the Passover time. He then speaks of Jesus’ Passover
which is linked to the central mysteries of the Lord’s passion, death, and
resurrection. The passage is priceless for it shows that the lambs were
being sacrificed and that Jesus then is considered as John the Baptist had
pointet out the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. This
passage of Paul helps us to understand both the questions Jesus poses to
his disciples leading them to think about the true bread of life in the
Eucharist. Here is what Paul says so clearly as he confronts the sins of
the Corinthian misbehaviors: “Do you not know that a little yeast leavens
the whole batch of dough? Clean out the old yeast that you may be a new
batch as you really are unleavened. For our Paschal Lamb, Christ, has been
sacrificed. Therefore, let us celebrate the festival not with the old yeast
of malice and evil but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

By applying this thought from St.Paul which is so rich in meaning we will
understand why Jesus is speaking of the bad yeast of Herod and Jesus’
religious opponents. We should be able to understand what he is talking
about and help him from asking us as intelligent and faithful disciples the
embarassing questions he posed to his first group of disciples…. in a
boat! Amen.

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