The Leaven of the Pharisees

Gospel Reflection for Tuesday, February 16th, 2021

Sometimes I’m amazed at how both our Lectionary of daily readings and the Church Calendar are intimately connected. Our Gospel reading today — the last day on the Church calendar before our liturgical season of Lent, we find Jesus saddened that his followers still don’t seem to get it.


We’re getting ready to enter the desert, so-to-speak, a time of prayer and fasting that is designed to mimic in spirit Jesus’ own time of preparation — 40 days in the desert. Hopefully, you'll utilize a portion of your Lenten journey in devotion to understanding God's will for your life in the spirit.


It's imperative that you "get it." That's what these daily reflections are about. We're linking the teachings of Christ to modern life through a systematic journey, teaching the "Authentic Faith."


The Disciples had witnessed two miracles where Jesus had multiplied fish and bread, feeding 4,000+ one time, and 5,000+ on the other occasion, yet they still didn’t seem to understand. Do you understand?


Jesus is the bread of life. We MUST learn to rely on Him for our spiritual sustenance.


Yes, attending Mass, participating in the life of the Church is essential. However, with that said, we MUST still beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees?


Is that still a thing, here in 21st century Christianity? In order to answer this question, we must first understand what the words Leaven and Pharisee mean in our modern context. Leavening agents are a group of baking ingredients used primarily for making bread products. The primary leveling agent in bread is usually yeast. Yeast is a living bacteria that feeds off of elements in wheat flower, growing, multiplying, and spreading throughout the whole batch. Used in the proper conditions yeast and other leavening agents are helpful.


Here we have Jesus explaining that not all leavening produce wholesome results. The Pharisees for instance had their own system of man-made laws that were not in the spirit which God intended. These laws of the Pharisees, during the time of Christ, had permeated the religious life of the Jewish people to the extent that they had lost their way. They were more focused on the letter of the law rather than the deeper spiritual intent. The Leaven of the Pharisees was literally destroying what God intended for His people.


In my Lenten message this morning, I talked a bit about legalism, the laws and teachings of men that have entered the Modern Church. Many such requirements are mandated with the threat of spiritual demise if they’re neglected. As I’ve pointed out, similar to the Leaven of the Pharisees, they have started out as pious practices, but have gradually grown into an overbearing spiritual law.


We MUST also be aware of a different leavening, one that is eating away at the moral center of many churches and nations -- the sin of Modernism. My friends, many modern Pharisees are teaching a false moral message that is actually permeating a vast amount of churches, including much of the RCC. YES, my brothers and sisters, beware of the Leaven of the Pharisees — not everything spoken in the name of god is of God. We MUST test all things, comparing modern teachings to the consistent polemic and catecheses of the primitive Church. Yes, pryer and fasting are both essential elements of the Christian faith, however, until relatively recently, fasting wasn't instituted as a spiritual law.


I cannot emphasize this point enough, we MUST sit under the teachings of folks who teach an “authentic faith.” Then we MUST do our own due diligence and STUDY. Above all else, we MUST bolster our faith with prayer, so that the TRUE Leaven of the Holy Spirit will grow in our lives, producing our own authentic faith, and radically transform ourselves into something different than our modern churches and the culture at large recognize.


PRAYER:

Lord, help me to be vigilant in avoiding the spiritual Leaven of our age. Produce in me a clean heart, one that Loves you and your Word above my own prideful desires. Guide me O Lord through the desert of lent this year so that I will come through the other end purified and ready to serve you in Spirit and Truth. Jesus become the bread of my life, give me an overwhelming appetite for your word, that it fills and sustains both my spiritual walk and ministry. AMEN


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GOSPEL — Mark 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?”

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