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Mark 8:14-21

The Word of God

Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, "Watch out - beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod." They said to one another, "It is because we have no bread." And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand?" Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to 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 collect?' They said to him, 'Twelve.' 'And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?' And they said to him, 'Seven.' Then he said to them, 'Do you not yet understand?'

Mark 8:14-21
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • The disciples seem to still have one-track minds – fantasising scenes of future political glory which seemed to be heralded by the popularity of Jesus in the wake of the miracle of the feeding the four thousand. When he tries to warn them against the expectations raised by the Pharisees and by Herod (yeast was the raising-agent used in baking) – they can only hear his words as something like a warning against themselves again running short of bread.
    • What they are missing out on is this: The only real future is the future that has already arrived before their eyes (and not any good-time future offered by politicians) – The Lord Of The Future is already present among them: how else is one to explain the sheer liberality of the mass-feeding that has happened before their very eyes?
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • The Pharisees and Herod are showing ill-will by conspiring against Jesus.
    • Could these insistent questions of Jesus be addressed to me?
    • Following on the feeding of the five thousand Jews and four thousand gentiles (non-Jews), have I not yet understood that Jesus is the ‘one loaf’, the Eucharistic bread of life, broken and shared, in order to achieve Christian fellowship for all peoples?
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • Jesus channels his anger in a constructive and challenging way. He asks the poor disciples nine pointed questions. Like the disciples, I too can be dull, mediocre, half-alive, confused. The divine drama is being played out around me, but I do not seem to know my God-given part in it.
    • I take these moments of prayer and ask Jesus to be honest with me. What questions does he ask me as his lack-lustre disciple? ‘Is your faith bland? Do you know what is it like to live by the gospel? If you want to be alive, why not follow me closely? You are limitlessly loved – do you know that? You are my friend and I want us to be close: but do you? Can you believe that the world needs you? I am offering you a new way of living: let’s go!’ Do I respond: ‘Jesus, do in me what needs to be done to set me afire!’
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • I think of Jesus looking at me lovingly, speaking to me gently, inviting me to understand and to receive his good news into my heart.
    • The daily bread of which Jesus speaks is not for the stomach. I pray that my eyes may see, that my ears may hear and that my memory be blessed to notice God's goodness and to receive the food God offers to me each day.
  • Some thoughts on today's scripture

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    • The disciples are worried about having too little bread, and Jesus is saying: /Surely you have learned that you do not need to worry about that when you are with me?/ Jesus is asking them to learn from their experience and keep their worries in perspective.
    • I need to learn that myself, Lord. The worries that seem huge in a moment of crisis seem trivial a week later. I survive sickness, temptation and failure, and bounce back. Help me to keep my heart up.
    • They had no bread but what they forgot was that they had Jesus. Prayer is opening ourselves to the presence of Jesus in our time of prayer and in life. The centre of Christian life and Christian prayer is Jesus. The fruits of Christian prayer are to live like him. The basis of prayer is faith. Ask for an increase in faith, ask to live like him.
    • The one loaf was all that was necessary. They had forgotten that Jesus could feed the many with the one bread. He cautions them to depend on him in life. The one loaf also looks ahead to the Eucharist. Jesus will identify himself then with a loaf of bread. Our prayer gives us time to allow the mystery of Jesus, the one thing necessary in life, to sink into the depths of our personalities.
    • "Yeast" here symbolises the evil influences of both the religious and the political leaders of Israel who were at odds with Jesus. Their teaching and their politics could infest the minds and hearts of the disciples. Today's culture with its rampant consumerism and greed can easily infest the hearts and minds of contemporary Christians.
    • The disciples took things at face value, missing Jesus' meaning. I take the time I need to listen deeply.
    • Jesus sometimes refers to yeast as positive, asking us to be like leaven. Is there a negative image of yeast that I need to be aware of ?