“Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” ~ Mark 8:15
In today’s 1st Reading (Genesis 6:5-8, 7:1-5, 10) we encounter a poignantly regretful God, one who upon seeing how great man’s wickedness had been in the relatively short time period spanning his creation, laments the fact that he had even made man and put him on the Earth.
On the verge of wiping out his prized creation and all who inhabited it, we are told that our Lord finds favor with Noah and in turn decides against it. The wheels of redemption have been set in motion and we are on the threshold of the 40 day flood. As we encounter yet more rain in the waterlogged region of North Georgia today coupled with a five day weather forecast that would be the envy of every umbrella salesmen, these readings certainly seem appropriate.
Our Pastor this morning in his homily told the congregation that he recently spotted a bumper sticker on the highway that read “If this keeps up, God is gonna have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.” Although blunt and certainly an accurate enough assessment of this day and age, the story of Noah and many others like it throughout Scripture remind us that God will never abandon his people. God’s grace, I firmly believe, increases proportionately as the world cries out for it in greater measure. This is truly where our hope lies.
In today’s Gospel (Mark 8:14-21), Jesus warns his disciples to avoid the “leaven” of the Pharisees and Herod, those corrupt teachings that impose cumbersome laws, employ the use of hypocritical double standards, and cunningly seeks personal gain as its ultimate ulterior motive. Something tells me that the Pharisees of Jesus’ time would thrive in today’s political climate. In revisiting the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, which Jesus does today when addressing the Apostles, he reminds them that he and he alone is capable of meeting all of their needs as he did for the 5,000 people who were gathered on that fateful day. And so it goes for us. As our faith increases, so too do the great things that Jesus can do for us in our lives multiply. Unconditional trust in God’s love and his will for our lives can do that for us. We must seek the true bread of heaven, that which will sustain us, that which multiplies abundantly within us...that which will ultimately save us.
“Grant, we pray Oh Lord, that we may always long for that food by which we truly live.”