Immersed in Christ: February 16, 2021
Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Mark 8:14-21. Year I: Genesis 6:5 to 7:10; Psalm 29:1-10. Year II: James 1:12-18; Psalm 94:12-19.
When Jesus left his phony questioners to cross the lake, he commented to his disciples, “Stay on guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.” They didn’t know what he was talking about (nothing new: see Luke 2:49-50; John 2:3-4). They guessed it was because they had forgotten to store enough bread in the boat. Jesus just rolled his eyes and asked seven questions in a row. First, “Why are you talking about bread? Do you have nothing more important to think about?”
Remember the setting. Jesus is about to reveal to his disciples (8:29) the “messianic secret” of his identity. They have just seen two “signs” greater than anything the Pharisees could have imagined (being, in fact, a preview of Eucharist: 6:41; 7:6). But all they were focused on was food! So Jesus jostled their minds: Second question: “Do you still not see or understand anything?”
Third: “Are your minds closed?” Hardened hearts were the “yeast of the Pharisees.” Their minds were completely closed: to signs, to Jesus himself, and to h
Fourth question: “Do you have eyes that can’t see, ears that can’t hear?” Herod had been asking about Jesus’ identity (6:14), but he and his crowd were too caught up in pleasures, prestige and power to perceive mystery. They had guessed that Jesus was everything but the Messiah — Elijah, a prophet, John come back to life. The “yeast of Herod” was spiritual myopia. They couldn’t see over the rim of this world.
Fifth: “Do you not remember? He calls them to open their eyes; think back; focus.
Sixth question: “When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets of leftovers did you collect?” They said, “Uh… Twelve… seven.”
Seventh question: “Do you not yet understand?” Jesus drew no conclusion. They would have to figure it out for themselves. He left them thinking.
We may have heard the Good News all our lives. In itself it might be as plain as day. But that doesn’t mean we understand. Jesus suggests we ask ourselves whether we do or not.
Is our focus too short? Are our minds just closed? Are we blinded by what we are caught up in? Do we make a point of remembering what we have seen and heard? (For example, do we pay attention to what the Eucharist recalls and celebrates?) Do we take time to think about it. Even God cannot evangelize the inert!
Initiative: Open your mind. Listen to God’s word. Ask what you are missing.