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FEB. 16. ORDINARY TIME. (B) WK. 6. TUE. MK. 8. 14-21

The disciples had forgotten to take any food and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. Then he gave them this warning, ‘Keep your eyes open; be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.’ And they said to one another, ‘It is because we have no bread.’ And Jesus knew it, and he said to them, ‘Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you not yet understand? Have you no perception? Are your minds closed? Have you eyes that do not see, ears that do not hear? Or do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves among the five thousand, how many baskets full of scraps did you collect?’ They answered, ‘Twelve.’ ‘And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets full of scraps did you collect?’ And they answered, ‘Seven.’ Then he said to them, ‘Are you still without perception?’


What Jesus is pointing out to us in this reading is the risks involved in misinterpreting his words. In this example Christ was giving his disciples a warning when he said: ‘Keep your eyes open; be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.’ It was a warning about the teachings and the mindset of the Pharisees, and how these can easily lead people astray.


The disciples however completely misunderstood the message due to Christ’s use of the word “yeast” and they thought he was talking about bread. As it turns out though there is a similar “message” between the doctrine of the Pharisees, and the disciples perceived understanding that Christ was referring to “bread”, or “food; - as doctrine, both good and bad doctrine, is truly food for the soul.


This is an example of the importance of understanding Christ’s teachings correctly, because they are indeed “food” for the journey of life, and Christ was well aware of this whenever he was “teaching” his followers; - which is why the Gospels should hold an important place in our lives; - as it is here that we are able to ponder Christ’s teachings; - or his “food” for the journey.


We can almost sense the frustration of Jesus in this reading at the disciples not understanding his message correctly: And he said to them, ‘Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you not yet understand? Have you no perception? Are your minds closed? Have you eyes that do not see, ears that do not hear? Or do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves among the five thousand, how many baskets full of scraps did you collect?’ and then he says; - for a second time; - Are you still without perception?”


And we are not immune from this danger of misinterpreting Christ’s teachings as we also have an inclination to “water them down somewhat”, so they do not interfere too much in our way of life, in exactly the way the Pharisees did. They professed to be teachers of the Law, but it was a law they had “watered down”, so they were able to live comfortably, while still teaching others.


One can only wonder if this is the real reason so many professed Christians do not give much of their time to the reading of Scripture; - like the Pharisees they prefer to “water down” the message of Christ; - and the best way of enabling this is to avoid reading the Gospels?


We need to be aware of this danger, as none of us, at our judgement, want to hear Christ say: “Do you still not understand; - Have you eyes that do not see, ears that do not hear?”

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