What’s Your Leaven?

February 15, 2022
Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today


Jesus enjoined them, “Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”  Mark 8:15

What is this “leaven” Jesus is speaking of?  After giving this warning to His disciples, Jesus then gives an explanation to them of what He means and what He doesn’t mean.  But even the explanation seems to be over their heads.  So He concludes by saying, “Do you still not understand?”  To this day, Jesus is still asking this question to each one of us.

This was certainly Jesus trying to get them to think, to listen and to look deeper.  He was warning them, “Watch out!”  Watch out for this leaven.  It’s a warning of love to help them see and understand a very real danger.

Everyone who bakes bread knows the effect of just a little leaven (such as yeast) in the dough.  Add just a little bit and it affects the whole loaf.  If a child is helping with the baking, this child may return several times, watching the dough rise little by little.  It can become a fascinating thing to watch.  And it all resulted from just this little yeast.

So what is this leaven of the Pharisees and Herod?  It’s the evil words, evil intent and errors that they spread.  For the Pharisees, it may be that it’s just a little misconception or misrepresentation of what Jesus said or did.  They may twist His words or may simply give non-verbal opinions to others.  This is contagious and has potential to affect everyone.  Little by little their small seeds of doubt and dissent take a toll on others.

We may tend to be thinking about all of “those” people we know who do this.  But we’d miss an important opportunity for growth if we failed to first look at ourselves.  Do I do this sometimes?  Do I say things that mislead in small or subtle ways?  Or do I mislead others by my non-verbal negative attitudes?  Am I a “negative person” sometimes?

No need to feel guilty or get down on ourselves if we feel convicted.  Rather, we should look at this little lesson of Jesus to realize the great power of our words.  The smallest of words can do great harm over time.  

But that’s not all we should focus on.  It’s just as important to realize that the small loving words we say also have potential to make a huge difference over time.  Perhaps it’s just that small smile we give or a kind action that we think goes unnoticed.  These little actions and words are the leaven of the Gospel.  They do make a difference and they can become contagious, also.  

Reflect, today, upon the small things in life.  Know that these small sins and small acts of love make a huge difference in the end.

My attentive Lord, help me to be honest and see what sort of leaven I sow each and every day.  Help me to be purged of the bad and filled with the good.  May You inspire me to be that good leaven in all the many daily interactions I have.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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Featured image above: Jesus Preaches in a Ship by James Tissot, via Brooklyn Museum

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