God (first reading) and Jesus (Gospel) is appalled by Humanity, but that’s not the full story. God is appalled by the wickedness of human beings and Jesus is appalled at His disciples; they were blind to who Jesus was and what he was doing among them.
Mark uses the expression “the yeast (or leaven) of the Pharisees.” In Lk 12:1, it is made clear that this yeast is their hypocrisy. It is strange that so useful a substance as yeast should come to have such negative associations. But in the Scripture, we also see yeast has a positive association. Jesus likened the Kingdom of heaven to leaven in a batch of dough (Mt 13:33). How can we hold these opposite meanings together?
Try this. Every person has a capacity for good and evil; everything we use, we can use for good or evil purposes. Consequently, every object we touch takes on associations of human goodness or evil and even comes to symbolise them. Leaven symbolises rapid growth. This can be good or bad, depending on what is growing. A child growing into adulthood is good, but a tumour growing out of control in the body is cancer.
Jesus could say repeatedly “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” but that’s not the full story; but then sits down at the table with them and even became friends with some of them. He held open the door of hope.
Irrespective of the mean-spiritedness in the world, God still loves this world and smiles upon it as does a mother upon her child.
Happy Valentines’ day!
Giltus Mathias CP is a Passionist priest, that lives at St Brigid’s Community.