TUESDAY OF THE SIXTH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME- YEAR B GENESIS 6:5-8,7:5-10 PSALM 29:1-10 MARK 8:14-21 Most of the time, the Gospel of Mark portrays the disciples of Jesus as unbelievably slow and regularly screwing up and Jesus being tough on them. For example, Mark 4:1-20 talks about the parable of the sower that the disciples ask Jesus to explain but before he explains he asks them, " Don't you understand this parable? " How then, will you ever understand any parable? " Still in Mark 4, when the disciples think that they will die from violent wind and waves in the lake because Jesus was asleep in the boat, he tells them, " Why are you frightened? Have you still no faith? "
When Jesus walks on water and his disciples think he is a ghost, Mark says at the end that the disciples were completely amazed because they had not understood the real meaning of the feeding of the 5000; their minds could not grasp it.
These are just some of the examples that depict the disciples of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark as slow learners. Other examples are found in Mark 8:27-38,Mk. 9:30-32,33-37,38-41,Mk. 10:13-16,35-45,Mk. 14:10-11,27-42,66-72,Mk. 16:1-8. These examples of lack of understanding on the part of the disciples are found from the beginning to the end of Jesus life and ministry in the Gospel of Mark and this is why probably Jesus appeared last to his disciples after his resurrection and not first as he did to Mary Magdalene and others.
The disciple's lack of understanding is also evident in the Gospel passage provided for today. We hear Jesus ask them at the end: Do you not yet understand? What is Jesus talking about here? From an open literal point of view, Jesus is talking about leaven as an essential ingredient of many breads. The Pharisees at that time did not allow it to be eaten with the passover meal, and those who eat it are considered cut off from the community because leaven spreads contamination.
A deeper meaning is to look at what the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod mean? We know that before reading this Gospel passage, the Pharisees question the power and authority of Jesus to teach and perform miracles. They want Jesus to conform to their expectations rather than them willing to change in the light of the Kingdom of God. Herod declines to listen to John the Baptist and relies on his political power.
This situation is also found in the First Reading. Is this not always the temptation to go one's own way and to expect God to conform to our expectations ; rather than be willing to release one's claim and expectations in order to hear and follow God.
That is why the disciples keep misunderstanding Jesus' teachings and misinterpreting his acts of power.
Are we ready to accept and understand God's ways?