Understanding and Becoming the Leaven Christ Wants, 6th Tuesday (I), February 14, 2017

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of SS. Cyril & Methodius
February 14, 2017
Gen 6:5-8.7:1-5.10, Ps 29, Mk 8:14-21


To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 


The following points were attempted in the homily: 

  • “Do you still not understand?” So Jesus asks the disciples and asks us. The specific context was about leaven when he warned them about the leaven, the corrosive teaching and example, on the one hand of the rigorist Pharisees and on the other the laxist Herodians. He wanted, rather, the leaven of faith, that a tiny bit of faith when placed in the “dough” of God’s power was able to accomplish great things. Jesus showed what a little bit of this leaven could do in the two miracles of the multiplication of the loaves and fish. He wants us to trust that with faith the size of a mustard seed we could move mountains, with some water in jars at a wedding we could have wine, 12 relative nobodies we could have a message go out to all of the world. “Do you still not understand?,” he asks.
  • Noah in today’s first reading is a sign of this leaven of faith. God asks Noah to build a huge ark and to do so, not in a big ship building place but in the middle of nowhere far from the ocean. The dimensions of the ark — 300 x 50 x 30 cubits, with a cubit being 18 inches or half a yard — were huge and would have taken some time to build. For weeks and months, people around him must have thought he was nuts. Imagine trying to build the Queen Elizabeth II on a farm in Iowa or up in the Rocky Mountains, far from water. But Noah trusted in the Lord and built. He, with his faith in God, was the leaven for the renewal of creation. God always starts small and builds. We see that with the Israelites, with the tribe of Judah within God’s people, with the “remnant,” ultimately with Mary and Joseph, and then the apostles. Many get corrupted by the leaven of the world or pseudo-religion. God always looks for the leaven of faith.
  • As the Fathers of the Church were accustomed to preach, the Church is meant to function as Noah’s Ark, bringing everybody to salvation on the barque of Peter despite the storms of life on the water. The “nave” of a Church is named because the Church is meant to be the “navis” or ship like the ark as a means of rescue. Christ is like Noah on that boat.
  • We see that in God’s plan of salvation he brought not just individuals, not just random people and animals of different sexes, but pairs, heterosexual couples, pointing, on this St. Valentine’s Day, to the importance of marriage for the renewal of the world after the devil tries to destroy Adam’s and Eve’s bond and every other. Married couples are called through the Sacrament of Marriage, to help each other onto the ark as it heads toward the eternal shore.
  • But it’s not just married pairs that are part of salvation. God sent out the first disciples two-by-two even though they could have covered far more ground going out singly. The reason, however, is so that they could announce the good news by how they lived it, loving each other, forgiving each other, correcting each other, helping each other to trust in God’s providence and so much more. Today the Church celebrates one of the most fruitful pairs in Church history, two brothers in blood and in spirit who brought whole nations in the Slavic world onto God’s ark: SS. Cyril and Methodius. Today we ask their intercession to help unite East and West in the Church, so that we can more effectively give witness to God’s plan of unity and salvation, and serve as much needed leaven for the world.
  • Today at this Mass, we see God’s greatest miracle of all, when God does something greater than the miracle of the multiplications of loaves and fish, greater than the flood. He wants us to respond to this gift with faith, to understand what he’s asking, and to help others similarly to become with us this leaven.


The readings for today’s Mass were:

Reading 1 Gn 6:5-8; 7:1-5, 10

When the LORD saw how great was man’s wickedness on earth,
and how no desire that his heart conceived
was ever anything but evil,
he regretted that he had made man on the earth,
and his heart was grieved.
So the LORD said:
“I will wipe out from the earth the men whom I have created,
and not only the men,
but also the beasts and the creeping things and the birds of the air,
for I am sorry that I made them.”
But Noah found favor with the LORD.
Then the LORD said to Noah:
“Go into the ark, you and all your household,
for you alone in this age have I found to be truly just.
Of every clean animal, take with you seven pairs,
a male and its mate;
and of the unclean animals, one pair,
a male and its mate;
likewise, of every clean bird of the air, seven pairs,
a male and a female,
and of all the unclean birds, one pair,
a male and a female.
Thus you will keep their issue alive over all the earth.
Seven days from now I will bring rain down on the earth
for forty days and forty nights,
and so I will wipe out from the surface of the earth
every moving creature that I have made.”
Noah did just as the LORD had commanded him.As soon as the seven days were over,
the waters of the flood came upon the earth.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 29:1a and 2, 3ac-4, 3b and 9c-10

R. (11b) The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Give to the LORD, you sons of God,
give to the LORD glory and praise,
Give to the LORD the glory due his name;
adore the LORD in holy attire.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters,
the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty;
the voice of the LORD is majestic.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The God of glory thunders,
and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
The LORD is enthroned above the flood;
the LORD is enthroned as king forever.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.

Alleluia Jn 14:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord;
and my Father will love him
and we will come to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 8:14-21

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,
“Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread?
Do you not yet understand or comprehend?
Are your hearts hardened?
Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?
And do you not remember,
when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand,
how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?”
They answered him, “Twelve.”
“When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand,
how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?”
They answered him, “Seven.”
He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”