Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
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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, “…Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened?”
Do you not yet understand? I hate to say this, but I’m not sure I would have understood the Lord either. What exactly was He trying to tell His Apostles when He said: “Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.”? Leaven… Hmmm. I think I got it. We must be careful of all those things that make our heads swell up, like power and money, but more specifically: pride, vanity and sensuality.
Pride does to the body what leaven does to bread. It swells things up, like our minds. It releases an sweet odor of superiority. It makes it all sound so believable. Isn’t this what happened to the Pharisees and scribes?
Vanity makes us worry far too much about what others think of us. This is what happened to Herod. This is why He took John the Baptist’s life. This is why we took Christ’s life.
Sensuality takes human comforts and turns them into gods. The Pharisees and Herod lived comfortable lives. They were not about to let anyone take it away.
Be on your guard against the leaven of pride, vanity and sensuality. It can consume you before you even notice it.
Temptations. “Blessed is he who perseveres in temptation, for when he has been proven he will receive the crown of life that [the Lord] promised to those who love him.”
Although temptations can be God awful things, they can actually serve a useful purpose in God’s ultimate plan.
Look on the bright side. Temptations are not all bad, really! They allow us to get a good glimpse of what we truly desire. After all, temptations are only temptations if they have a place in our hearts and minds; that is, if we secretly desire them. Shhh.
So temptations not only allow us to know ourselves better, but they can also act like early warning signs. They can give us a heads up on dangers that are off to a distance or are fast approaching.
Watch out, guard yourselves!
Finally, temptations tend to force us to grow up faster; that is, help us to grow a little stronger, wiser and less prideful. We shouldn’t be boasting about anything just yet. Like St. Paul writes, “May I never boast except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal 6:14). Amen to that, brother! Amen to that!
“Be my protector, O God, a mighty stronghold to save me. For you are my rock, my stronghold! Lead me, guide me, for the sake of your name” (Entrance Antiphon, Sixth Tuesday in Ordinary Time).
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