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Homily for Tuesday of the 6th Week in Ordinary Time, 15 February 2022, Mk 8:14-21

It’s not about the bread. It is rather about the ATTITUDE.

There is a little misunderstanding between Jesus and his disciples in today’s Gospel. The disciples think they are being reprimanded by Jesus because they had forgotten to bring some bread with them. Actually, they had bread with them, but it was just one loaf.

The question is: did they really forget, or did they deliberately not bring some bread with them?

Ako, palagay ko sinadya nila talaga. And I think Jesus was upset with them because they they were starting to get presumptuous that the people they will serve would feed them anyway. After all, they had the preacher-healer-exorcist with them, rolled into one. He did not even charge for his services, maybe they thought it was not too much to expect at least to be fed by those who benefitted from his ministry.

And so when he told them to watch out and guard against the leaven of the Pharisees, he could have been referring to the tendency of his own disciples to develop a sense of entitlement and to demand repayment for the favors that they think they are doing for the people. Jesus called it leaven, meaning, yeast, something seemingly so insignificant but so potent. Yeast is considered a symbol of corruption, and so the unleavened bread of Passover symbolized purity.

These men knew that Jesus was generous to a fault. He was not the type who would make demands even when he deserved it. Remember the context of the two stories of the feeding of the multitude which Jesus mentions about later in their conversation? In both instances, even after Jesus had taught, exorcised and healed the people, he did not demand anything as repayment. In fact he even wanted the disciples to feed them before sending them home. I think Jesus knew that most of these people who came to him were the poorest of the poor.

And so when the disciples suspected that the issue behind Jesus’ reaction was bread, he reminded them that bread was never an issue, even during those times that they had only five loaves for five thousand people. He even reminds them how they actually ended up with 12 baskets of leftovers. Or that time when they had seven loaves for four thousand people. They even ended up with seven baskets of leftovers. So why would it be a problem that they had only one loaf of bread with them?

No, the issue is not bread. It is the attitude. Remember what the disciples said when Jesus asked them to give the people something to eat? How they immediately counted the cost and dismissed as nothing the few loaves of bread and fish that they had with them? It is this attitude which Jesus calls the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of the Herodians. As far as Jesus was concerned, even one loaf of bread is enough for a thousand people if they had good attitude and a generous heart. But even a thousand loaves would not be able to feed everyone if they allowed the yeast of bad attitude and a sense of entitlement to corrupt them, the way it corrupted Herod and the Pharisees.

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Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

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