6th Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: Jas 1:12-18
Blessed is he who perseveres in temptation, for when he has been proven he will receive the crown of life that he promised to those who love him. No one experiencing temptation should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God is not subject to temptation to evil, and he himself tempts no one. Rather, each person is tempted when lured and enticed by his desire. Then desire conceives and brings forth sin, and when sin reaches maturity, it gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers and sisters: all good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change. He willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
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?”
“Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test” (Mt 26:41): In the first reading of today St. James says, “Blessed is he who perseveres in temptation, for when he has been proven he will receive the crown of life that he promised to those who love him.” Temptation is a common thing for all the human beings. Even Jesus was tempted in the desert before starting his public ministry. “Lead us not into temptation” is one of the petitions of the prayer our Lord taught us. According to the Genesis narrative the human destiny got changed because our first parents – Adam and Eve – yielded to the temptation. Jesus advises the disciples to be awake and to pray that they may not be led into temptation. This is also what Jesus prays for us. In the Gospel of today Jesus tells the disciples to “Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” Let us keep watching.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, give us the grace that lured and enticed by our desire we may not yield to temptation.
STAND FIRM AND DISCOVER GOD: Whenever we fail to concentrate on the essentials, we fall back to the convenient and to what seems close at hand. This is the common practice of those who build religion on the popular and on what seems widely followed. Contrary to that one’s experience of God is meant to be more personal. It is what I see, hear and experience, that gets me to understand God better. It is only then that I can see God active and alive in my daily life. The tyranny of customs and handed-down practices suffocate people. It is people with self-interests and private agenda who force such customs on the majority. In reaction to this, Jesus warns His disciples, to be aware of the pharisaic practices. Today. we are invited to have courage and resist popular opinion. “He is a coward who dares not be in the right with the minority”, goes the wise saying. Do not be afraid, just be yourself and you will find God in live, prayer and action.
FULFILLING GOD’S PLAN: The first reading speaks about how God regrets the creation of man because of the evil of man’s heart and deeds. The bold exception to this wickedness is Noah. Because of his “truly just” heart, Noah becomes a public agent of renewal for God, who saves and restores humanity through him. In the same way, Jesus’ warning to his disciples gives us an invitation to be his instruments similar to the invitation that God gave Noah. Instead of letting our hidden leaven ruin our lives, Jesus calls us to be his public agents like Noah was, pure of heart and action. So, what is the leaven in our own lives? What is it that is holding us back from being God’s instruments? Is it WhatsApp, our jobs, TV shows, or an overly packed schedule? It can be difficult at times to turn our gaze inward and make an honest assessment of our personal positives and negatives, but this is essential for us to avoid being leaven and to instead be good disciples of Jesus.