Today’s account from the Gospel of Mark is a continuation of what we read yesterday when Jesus convicted the Pharisees for demanding a sign. He recognized their hardness of heart and hypocrisy and with the opportunity of being together in the boat, Jesus seized on this encounter as a teachable moment. He wanted to warn those of his inner circle to be aware not to follow the same path of corruption when he enjoined them: “Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod” (Mk 8:15).
The disciples missed the point as they focused on the literal reality that they only had one loaf of bread among them. Jesus was warning his followers about the danger of pride, seeking honor, power, and fame which had lead many of the Pharisees and Herod astray. To be his followers, striving to place themselves first would be not only the undoing of each of them but also this posture would undermine those they would be charged to care for.
Unfortunately, too many have not heeded this lesson that Jesus offered in today’s Gospel to his disciples regarding being aware of the corrupting leaven of many of the Pharisees and Herod. Just as the effects of original sin has wounded humanity, so it has also affected those in the Church. Throughout the ages, clergy and laity alike have succumbed to the temptations of placing our needs and focus on ourselves instead of God and who he calls us to serve.
Yet throughout the worst of corruption and abuse, the Church is still here. God continues to work through many who have and continue to be faithful to his invitation and follow his will in simple ways, living lives of quiet service. It is unfortunate that there are those who leave because they see the presence of hypocrisy, injustice, abuse, and corruption. Those who have the eyes to see and ears to hear what needs to be corrected are the very ones who need to stay to fight for the truth and healing that the Holy Spirit offers the wounded Body of Christ.
The Church is in need of healing and so are we. We are all interconnected. As one suffers, we all do. We all need to be aware of the sinful leaven that seeks to undo each of us. It is easy to point fingers but we will be on surer footing to bring about transformation and healing when we come to Jesus, spend some time with him in quiet, and be willing to be still long enough that he may reveal to us our sins. Not just the low hanging fruit but all the way down to the roots of our deepest pain, wounds, and traumas that feed the fruits of our sin. If don’t cut up the root, we will fall for the same temptations time and time again.
We do not embark on this journey alone. Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, counseling as needed, conversations with trusted family and friends, we begin to dig up and cut away these deeply embedded roots. As we continue to trust God, with each faithful step, we will experience the healing balm of our loving Father’s tender care, his Son’s understanding and accompaniment, and warm touch of the love of the Holy Spirit that reaches into the depths of the wounds of our souls. This is how we can better allow God’s healing to work through us to provide healing for others so as to bring much needed healing to the wounded Body of Christ.