Tuesday of the 6th Week of the Year

Mk 8:14-21

The Leaven of the Pharisees

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:

It seems unfortunate that leaven is made an example of an evil action subtly influencing one’s life. In today’s gospel, leaven is connected to the evil inclinations of Herod and the Pharisees.

Just lately, a parishioner of mine shared the story of how a close friend was gradually influencing him by his corrupt and dishonest way of managing the affairs of the local government. He opted to be jobless and penniless. He withdrew from his company and resigned from his job.

In leaving or refusing the evil influences of the leaven of the so-called friends, one would have to sacrifice his job, position, and even life. It is not easy but not impossible. (Fr. Tony Pezon, SVD Bible Diary 2004)

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The parish told his sacristan to prepare the kit for a barrio mass some few kilometers away. Upon arriving, just as the Holy Mass was about to begin, the sacristan, in fear and trembling, announced that he forgot to bring the mass wine. Unable to contain his anger, the priest drove the boy out to get wine alone from the town.

After the Mass, the boy was bracing for a violent scolding to come. But to his surprise, the parish priest was compassionate and supportive; he was bubbling with joy. The companion the sacristan explained that while he was away, the parish priest was caught up with hearing confessions and consultations and was very much satisfied with the response of the church goers.

The apostles forgot to bring along bread for their journey. Some apostles were grumbling that this came to the attention to the Lord. But somehow this frustrating situation became an occasion for the Lord to talk about the Bread that matters. From worry and disappointments, the Lord slowly taught them to see beyond the surface. God is not absent. God desires to feed and satisfy the hungry.

We hunger for many things from the physical to even metaphysical. We regret many times the past, afraid of the future and discontented with the present moment. But God wants to infinitely satisfy and provide our needs anytime, if only we open our eyes and hearts to Him. Jesus is telling us as he did to his apostles a long time ago: “Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?” (Fr. Ben Linsuan, SVD Bible Diary 2007)

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Jesus was warning His disciples to watch out for teachings or doctrines that maybe misleading. “They have eyes but they do not see; ears and not hear…” it is a reality that many matters concerning faith and religion are beyond the easy comprehension of ordinary people. That is one reason why superstitious beliefs persist in the midst of people. My experiences in Mindoro attest to this. The simple people in the rural areas are deprived of many opportunities to increase their knowledge about God and faith. One reason for this is that they are mainly preoccupied with the daily struggle to keep alive. However when opportunities come, they are quite open to fill their minds with spiritual matters. There is undeniably a hunger or thirst for things spiritual. Hence the first articulate and convincing speaker to get to them can easily win them over. On places not often visited by the priests, people have been won over by other sects and non-Catholic groups. This can partly explain why there are so many different churches, sects, cults, what have you, in the rural areas. The harvest is indeed great and they go to those who are first to gather them. One sees here the need for more priests and religious, for more catechists and lay leaders, for more genuine Christians who can enlighten their fellow to the truth.

It is a call for more proclaimers of the Word. We feel sad that vocations to the priesthood and religious life are dwindling. However the mission to proclaim the gospel is not only the work of priests and religious. The lay people who comprise the majority of the Church can be a rich source of manpower for the task of evangelization. It is a timely reminder for all of us that many are being misled by the ‘leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.’ Many claim to give the bread of eternal life, but there is only one-true bread and one true leaven. Lay empowerment or more lay involvement can help provide the ‘true leaven’ to those who need it. (Fr. Gil Alejandria, SVD Bible Diary 2008)

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I had a three-day summer break in the islands of Batanes last May courtesy of a friend. There I saw the beauty and wonder of those small northernmost islands of our country. For me, it was a wish fulfilled!

While traveling around and seeing the island’s remarkable and awe-inspiring natural attractions as well as talking to some folks, I was overwhelmed, not only emotionally but more so spiritually.

I met a very young diocesan priest, Fr. Ariel Oguan, a Masbateno who opted to be assigned there as parish priest in Sabtang island whose simple life and missionary zeal, enthusiasm, faith and hope touched me tremendously because he simply manifested God’s presence. Curious that I was, I asked him, “Father, you seem to have a lot of money because you were able to renovate the church!” “Pads, I don’t have money,” was his spontaneous response. “Then how were you be able to do it?” I asked. He said, “Pads, God provides. The money is with the people and they are willing to help. They are so generous.” His faith-filled statement put me to shame. How I wished I, a religious missionary, had that kind of trust in Divine Providence. Truly that moment was a moment of grace, conversion and renewal for me.

In today’s gospel reading, I can see the same concern of the disciples. They are worried about not having enough to eat, even if Jesus has fed big crowds on two different occasions. Jesus seems to say, “Hasn’t experience taught you anything? Where is your trust that I care about you and will take care of you?”

Once in a while, let us ask ourselves this question, “How much do we trust God’s compassion and love?” (Fr. Eliseo YYance, SVD Bible Diary 2009)

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See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

Back to: Tuesday of the 6th Week of the Year

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