Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

"Do you still not understand?"

Now they had forgotten to take bread with them; they had no more than one loaf in the boat. Jesus began to warn them: "Beware," he said, "be on your guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod." They said among themselves, "Is is because we have no bread?" Knowing what was in their minds, he asked them, "Why do you talk about having no bread? Have you no inkling yet? Do you still not understand? Are your minds closed? You have eyes: can you not see? You have ears: can you not hear? Have you forgotten? When I broke the five loaves among five thousand, how many basketsful of scraps did you pick up?" "Twelve", they said. "And how many when I broke the seven loaves among four thousand? They answered, "Seven." He said, "Do you still not understand?" Mark 8: 11-21

Recall that before this gospel scene Jesus had fed 4000 people with seven little loaves of bread and a few fish. Then he had a brief encounter with some skeptical, scheming Pharisees before taking off with the disciples in a boat to the other side of the lake. Maybe as he embarked he said to himself, "Oh enough of this already."

But once they're in the boat the apostles start to fuss about having forgotten to take bread along with them. Sometimes our priorities are terribly messed up - even in religion. We shouldn't get defensive, this is after all a story about Jesus who asks some startling questions. 

While the apostles spin emotionally about bread, Jesus starts talking to them about yeastYeast is symbolic of influence. Yeast influences flour quietly and invisibly while it makes the dough rise. Jesus knows what the anxiously distracted apostles are thinking and calls them out on it. Imagine! He warns them about the religious Pharisees (influencing yeast) who are filled with wrong ideas. Don't get infected by them. But the apostles don't understand because they're preoccupied with the lower place of their stomachs.

What's preoccupying me? How is my own mind closed? Has some wrong idea got hold of me? What bit of Christ have I forgotten or never paid attention to: "This justice stuff isn't for me," a proud parishioner once admitted. 

 These Pharisee guys are still very alive in hearts and minds. 


  1. If even the Apostles had trouble putting their faith in Jesus, it is easy to see why we have trouble doing it today. We need this constant reassurance that Jesus is present in our lives and that we should trust in Him.

  2. People, in general, don't like to answer the hard questions. Can I really do as Jesus asks? I hope so. I hope so.

  3. Catholics either become just like the Pharisees who thought they were holy or, if they are honest with themselves, they become so frustrated they lose hope, believing communion with God is only for ancient saints or a few chosen ones. Most settle for lukewarm religion when Jesus has offered all an intimate relationship and communion with Him. However, it is rather simple. Everything about God is simple and natural. We are the ones who complicate our relationship with Him.

  4. Maybe we all tend to say "enough of this already" when we don't want to face reality or to discuss unpleasant things. We are afraid to look within ourselves. If we can't be honest with ourselves, we practice avoidance and ignore the issues or the people who bring them to us. It is more in some people's nature than others. Why should our relationship with God be different? You run away until you find the place or the people who suit you.

    1. No running away in this gospel scene: Jesus has them kind of cornered in the little boat. They're stuck, "Do you still not understand?" I imagine some of them wanted to jump out of the boat. Us too!

  5. Do you still not understand? I feel like I have said those words so many times.

  6. Why is it always that after the fact, we find it easier to believe. It seems Jesus has to prove Himself over and over again. I think its through prayer, the Eucharist, that we grow to trust in God. Imagine after all the pain and suffering He went through for us, we still don't get it. I admit, there are still times, I don't get it!

  7. How do we keep the Pharisees out of our hearts and our minds? I see them everywhere. In myself and in others. Do you see them in yourself Father?

  8. The Pharisees had wrong ideas. And so do you and I. We've been told the Pharisees were hypocrites. That isn't it. But they did have wrong ideas about God and God's rule and so do we. Sometimes the wrong ideas about Christ come from within religion itself...when we're not taught rightly or when we make the concerns of religion much too small. Best advice I was ever given by a priest friend on my way through seminary: "Do everything you can to get Christ into your life; there is everything to take him away." The things that will "take him away" have to do with power and earthly attachments and ideas that don't serve our inner man/woman. We only need to watch about 15 minutes of television and the attendant commercials to "get" that!