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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading (Gen 6:5-8; 7:1-5.10): When the Lord saw how great was man’s wickedness on earth, and how no desire that his heart conceived was ever anything but evil, he regretted that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was grieved. So the Lord said: «I will wipe out from the earth the men whom I have created, and not only the men, but also the beasts and the creeping things and the birds of the air, for I am sorry that I made them».

But Noah found favor with the Lord. Then the Lord said to Noah: «Go into the ark, you and all your household, for you alone in this age have I found to be truly just. Of every clean animal, take with you seven pairs, a male and its mate; and of the unclean animals, one pair, a male and its mate; likewise, of every clean bird of the air, seven pairs, a male and a female, and of all the unclean birds, one pair, a male and a female. Thus you will keep their issue alive over all the earth. Seven days from now I will bring rain down on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and so I will wipe out from the surface of the earth every moving creature that I have made». Noah did just as the Lord had commanded him. As soon as the seven days were over, the waters of the flood came upon the earth.
Responsorial Psalm: 28
R/. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Give to the Lord, you sons of God, give to the Lord glory and praise. Give to the Lord the glory due his name; adore the Lord in holy attire.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters, the Lord, over vast waters. The voice of the Lord is mighty; the voice of the Lord is majestic.

The God of glory thunders, and in his temple all say, «Glory!». The Lord is enthroned above the flood; the Lord is enthroned as king forever.
Versicle before the Gospel (Jn 14:23): Alleluia. Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord; and my Father will love him and we will come to him. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mk 8:14-21): The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. Jesus enjoined them, “Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” They concluded among themselves that it was because they had no bread. When he became aware of this he said to them, “Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread? Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?” They answered him, “Twelve.” “When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?” They answered him, “Seven.” He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

“Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees”

Fr. Juan Carlos CLAVIJO Cifuentes (Bogotá, Colombia)

Today, —once again— we can see the wisdom of our Lord Jesus. His behavior is amazing, as it is so different from the rest of the people…, it is original. He has just worked some miracles and now He is going somewhere else where the Grace of God must also reach. In such a context of miracles, before a new group of people who are waiting, He warns them: "Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod." (Mk 8:15), for they —the Pharisees and Herod— do not want the Grace of God to be known, and they would rather spend all their time spreading bad yeast throughout the World while sowing discord.

Our faith does not depend on our deeds, for “a faith which we ourselves decide about is not a faith in absolute” (Benedict XVI). On the contrary, it is our deeds that depend upon our faith. To have a true and authentic faith implies an active and dynamic faith; not a conditioned faith that stays only on the surface, in the external appearance, that gets off the track… Ours must be a genuine faith. We must look at things with the eyes of God, not with the sinner’s eyes: “Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened?” (Mk 8:17).

The Kingdom of God expands in our world just as the yeast grows in the dough, without our knowing why. The authentic faith must be like that, a faith that grows in our love for God. Let nothing and nobody, therefore, befuddle us of the encounter with our Lord and His redeemable message. Our Lord never misses an opportunity to teach and, today, He keeps on doing it: “We must free ourselves from the false idea that faith has nothing to say to today’s men” (Benedict XVI).

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “Lay aside, therefore, the evil, the old, the sour leaven, and be changed into the new leaven, which is Jesus Christ. Be salted in Him, lest anyone among you should be corrupted, since by your savour you shall be convicted.” (Saint Ignatius of Antioch)

  • “By denouncing the ‘leaven’ of Herod, Jesus Christ unmasks one of the facets of the sinful temptation: the appearance of realism. When making decisions is when the question arises: what really matters in my life?” (Benedict XVI)

  • “As leaven in the dough, the newness of the kingdom should make the earth ‘rise’ by the Spirit of Christ. This must be shown by the establishment of justice in personal and social, economic and international relations, without ever forgetting that there are no just structures without people who want to be just.” (Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Nº 2832)

Other comments

“Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?”

Fr. Lluís ROQUÉ i Roqué (Manresa, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, we see that Jesus —as often happened with the Apostles— was not always understood.

At times it is difficult. We may see wonders, have things explained crystal clear or receive a good doctrine. No matter, we deserve His scolding: “Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened?” (Mk 8:17).

We would like to tell Him we understand Him and that our mind is not closed, but we do not dare to. Like the blind of the parable, we may ask Him, to listen to our pleading: “Lord, please let me see” (Lk 18:41), to have faith and see; and, as the psalmist says: “Direct my heart toward your testimonies and away from gain” (Ps 119:36) to have a good disposition, to listen, receive the Word of God and make it fruitful.

Today and always, it would also be good, to pay attention to Jesus' warning: “Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees.” (Mk 8:15); the truth is so far away... We seem “fanatical believers”, who do not understand “when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth” (Jn 4:23). We must also beware “the leaven of Herod” which is proud, despotic, sensual, and only wants to see and feel Jesus for pleasure's sake.

But, how to keep away from this “yeast”? Well, just by doing a continuous, intelligent and pious evaluation of the Word of God which will let us grow individually “pious as infants: but not ignorant, because each one of us must try, to the best of his abilities, to seriously and scientifically study the faith… That is, to have the piety of children coupled with the doctrinal knowledge of a theologian” (Saint Josemaria Escrivá).

Thus, enlightened and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, alerted and led by the good Shepherds, stimulated by all the faithful Christians, we shall believe what we ought to believe and we shall do what we ought to do. First, though, we must have the “desire” to see: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14), visible, palpable; and the “desire” to listen: it was the Virgin Mary's response that made Jesus say: “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (Lk 11:28).