The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, and they only had 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." (Mark 8:14-16)
The apostles’ minds were on earthly matters. Therefore, they just didn’t get what Jesus was trying to say. We are supposed to “think of what is above, not what is on earth” (Colossians 3:2).
Jesus is warning his followers about the leaven of the Pharisees and King Herod. What is the leaven of these religious and political leaders? Hard-heartedness, unbelief, close-mindedness, fear, laziness, arrogance, pride... These vices grew until these men couldn’t believe in Jesus, outright rejecting Him.
Jesus wants us to guard against such evils. Like leaven, vices spread until they permeate our whole being. So, when you cannot grasp something the Church teaches, do not close your heart to it. Instead, seek understanding. “Do not be unbelieving, but believe” (John 20:27). Replace fear with trust, and laziness with zeal. We must strive for the humility of Jesus, “who though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped” (Philippians 2:6). By the grace of the Incarnation, we must overcome vices with virtues.
Evil spreads – it is true. But take heart - so does love! Jesus’ sacrifice shows us the power of love. St. Peter assures us that “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). St. John, through his Revelation, reveals that in the end, Love wins! And St. Valentine lets us know that love is worth celebrating. So, especially today, spread the leaven of God’s love.
How can I spread the leaven of God’s love today?
Jesus, set my mind on things that are above and trust You to take care of the things here below. I surrender to Your love. Amen.