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February 19, 2019: Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time [I]

Reading Genesis 6:5-8;7:1-5,10
Gospel Mark 8:14-21

He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

Frustration in and of itself must not be a sin, or Jesus—according to the portraits painted by the evangelists—would not be divine. We see such a portrait in today’s Gospel passage. This passage ends with a question from Jesus. While we can be sure that Jesus’ next action involved compassion, we might instead back up and reflect on this passage in terms of ourselves, inasmuch as we often imitate the disciples in this passage.

There are two things lacking in these disciples. First, they “had forgotten to bring bread”. This is a practical omission on their part, and surely each of us can relate to it. But this is not Jesus’ real concern.

Instead, when Jesus enjoins the disciples to “guard against the leaven” of the Pharisees and Herod, the disciples take Jesus’ words literalistically rather than as an analogy. In other words, the disciples were so concerned with physical hunger that they couldn’t see past it. They couldn’t see that Jesus was speaking about something far more important: the spiritual means by which the Pharisees and Herod, on one hand, and Jesus on the other, considered spiritual growth to take place. Pray today that your very real practical concerns about life might never obscure the even more important spiritual needs that require your tending today, not with the leaven of the Pharisees, but with the leaven of the Eucharist.