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The leaven of the Pharisees



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?”



Do you still not understand? We may remember our childhood days when our parents would get annoyed at our failure to follow instructions, even after repeated teaching or emphasis on the matter. Somehow, even unto adulthood we may fail to understand certain things; we certainly lack the capacity to fathom the mystery of certain realities.

Jesus in the Gospel feels like a frustrated parent, after finding out that His disciples have not understood the meaning of the multiplication of the loaves and have not realized the power that has been at work in him. He rehearses the stories with them, hoping that they would sharpen their eyes, minds, and hearts so as to attain deeper understanding.

We can look at things but without seeing; we can hear but not listen or understand the message (cf Mt 13:13). This is often because we lack the openness and docility of a child; we listen only to our own opinions and views. Understanding presupposes hearing and listening and requires the humility to accept that we do not know everything.

Do you give full attention to Jesus and his words so as to be enriched by his message?


SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord 2018,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail:; Website:

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