Today’s readings.. (Exodus 22), (Psalms 75,76), (Mark 8)

The disciples of Jesus were in training – but they did not realize this!  Do we?  Jesus spoke in parables and they, most of all, were expected to grow in their ability to sense their meaning and lesson.  In today’s chapter in Mark (Ch.. 8) they go in a boat to the other side of Galilee but “they had forgotten to take bread … and he cautioned them saying, ‘Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees’ …” [v.14,15]
They do not understand his meaning and “began discussing with one another the fact they had no bread.” [v.16]  Jesus reproves them for their lack of perception in spite of previous experiences.
“Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened?  Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?  And do you not remember? “ [v.17,18]
He then reminds them of the feeding of the 5 thousand followed by the 4 thousand to make the point that the lack of literal bread was not the problem – it was “the leaven” of the teaching and attitudes of the Pharisees they had to beware of and watch out for.  What damage that would cause if attitudes developed in them. The spirit such attitudes produce destroy any chance of faith being able to grow.  The Pharisees extolled in their position before men, their glory was in their self-importance!
The seed for this “leaven” to grow was in the hearts of the disciples, it was latent there as we will see in the next chapter when Jesus challenges them “for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest.”  [9 v.34]  Today’s chapter tells us that Jesus “called to him the crowd with his disciples and said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” [v.34]  There is no intention to do any cross bearing in the hearts of those full of self-importance!
Making our faith evident to others in this ever more sinful world is one way we are likely to create for ourselves a ‘cross’ or two to bear – let us really mark Jesus’ words, “whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him (or her) will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in glory …” [v.38]
Let us remember the down to earth lessons Jesus taught and become, if we are not already, genuine disciples who listen to his words and perceive what he really means and make them part of our daily thinking and doing


* Click verse text to see cross references.
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