As a convert myself, I understand the baggage that we often bring when we come into the Catholic Church. If you grew up in a tradition of reading everything in the Bible literally like I did, knowing when not to do that can be a challenge.
Which is why I love today’s Gospel. It shows the disciples making the same mistake. Thinking Jesus was speaking literally, when He wasn’t. Here’s the key part:
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?”
Leaven is yeast. When you add yeast to flour and water, it spreads through the dough. And completely changes its character.
If Jesus was warning a bunch of bakers about the leaven from the Jerusalem Baking Supply Company, the disciples’ understanding might make sense.
But that isn’t the context.
And that’s why is Jesus annoyed. Because they missed the context. The context that should tell them (and us) that Jesus isn’t speaking literally. Here’s how you can tell:
Who’s giving the advice? A carpenter turned teacher. Not a baker.
Who’s the advice going to? The disciples did a lot of different things. But no bakers.
Who are the Pharisees and Herod? Spiritual and political leaders. Not sellers of baking supplies.
Which tells us that Jesus isn’t talking about actual baking or actual bread.
Jesus is using leaven as a way to describe how something works. The way that the influence of the Pharisees and Herod spreads and changes things.
But the best part of this Gospel? It’s what comes next.
Jesus doesn’t throw them out of the boat. And hold auditions for new disciples.
Jesus doesn’t give up on them. He keeps working on them. And working on them.
Until the ones who couldn’t get it right become the ones who set the world on fire.
It’s everything I love about Jesus.Read More