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Loving Bread and Doubting Jesus

February 16, 2021   Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time (Lectionary: 336)

Reading I   Gn 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   29:1a and 2, 3ac-4, 3b and 9c-10
R. (11b) 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.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
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.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
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.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.

Alleluia   Jn 14:23
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord;
and my Father will love him
and we will come to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel   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?”

By Jenna McAndrew 

Have you seen that clip from Oprah’s Weight Watchers commercial where she pronounces, “I. LOVE. BREAD.”?  Today’s Gospel makes me think of that commercial because it’s all about bread.  For those unfamiliar with bread making, or if you’ve never watched The Great British Baking Show, the main components of bread are flour, water, and yeast. 

Yeast is what makes bread rise, a process also called leavening or proving.  No yeast means flat bread.  Just a little bit of yeast will allow your dough to double in size and become fluffy, light, delicious bread.

Jesus tells his disciples in this Gospel to “Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod” (Mark 8:15). 

Why does he call the Pharisees and Herodians leaven? 

Leavened bread has risen; it is full; in a way, you could say it is puffed up.  Jesus is calling out the Pharisees’ egos and haughtiness.  

It’s no coincidence that Jesus uses a bread reference here.  Just before this event, Jesus had performed the multiplication of the loaves and fishes for four thousand people (Mark 8:1-10).  After the Pharisees witness this event, they come to him demanding “a sign from heaven,” as if Jesus multiplying seven loaves into enough to feed four thousand people isn’t enough of a sign!  Hence why Jesus calls them leaven.

But here’s the best part: the Apostles think that Jesus scolds them in this way because they forgot bread; they only have a loaf in the boat. 

I can imagine that this must have made Jesus laugh.  Did they forget what He had just done?!  Did they really think lack of bread was going to be a problem for the man that just fed four thousand people with seven loaves of bread?!  The Apostles still don’t get it.  They still doubt that Jesus can work miracles.  They still doubt that Jesus is the Messiah. 

They are still surprised every time He does exactly what He came to do.

Today is the final day before Lent, or what is commonly called “Fat Tuesday.”  It’s a final day of indulgence before a season of sacrifice and penitence.  I think it’s fitting that we are reflecting on a Gospel passage about bread on a day that, for many of us, revolves around food.  The Apostles were so doubtful that Jesus would provide for them when they forgot their bread; they lacked trust. 

So too, I think Jesus is asking me to trust in Him this Lent.  Yes, I may be making sacrifices that seem too big for me.  But then I think of the question Jesus asks at the end of this Gospel: “Do you still not understand?”  The Jesus that is calling us into the desert with Him is the same Jesus who multiplied the loaves and fishes, who walked on water, who died on the Cross for me, and who rose from the dead.

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