What, No Bread?

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Memorial of Saints Cyril, Monk, and Methodius, Bishop

Mark 8:14-21

They had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. He 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?”


Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant me a deeper desire to encounter you in every circumstance of my life and recognize the gifts you offer me. 


Encountering Christ:


  1. Jesus Prompts Faith: Despite their witnessing healings, raisings from the dead, expulsions of evil spirits, and power over nature, even in Jesus’s disciples faith was still lacking. He warned his disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod. They represented two extreme schools: those who maintained rigidity in human laws at the expense of being open to mystery versus those who opened themselves to all practices and lack adherence of any revealed truth. Both groups believed they were justified in their beliefs and actions; one group was justified by its law-abiding actions, the other was justified by personal whims. Both created their set of beliefs for justification and salvation according to their self-defined standards, independent of an objective truth.  Both faltered in authentic faith and failed to recognize the visitation of their Lord. Jesus prompted the disciples to faith when he saw they failed to recognize him. He reminded them of his two miracles of the multiplication of the loaves (a sign of his universal salvific intent), and that he is the way to all righteousness and justification.


  1. Twelve and Seven: The two miracles represent Jesus’s offering of new life to both the nation of Israel and the Gentile nation. He was offering universal salvation by personally providing what they need for the journey. Twelve baskets full represent the twelve tribes of Israel whom God first established as his chosen people to preserve belief in the one true God. The seven baskets left over represent the seven nations of the Gentiles to whom salvation is extended. While salvation is universal, the way to salvation is through Jesus.  He warned his disciples to beware of the false way of salvation offered by the two extreme philosophies.


  1. True Bread from Heaven: The good leaven that Jesus offers is faith in his person. The miracles of the loaves echoed past signs and pointed prophetically to the future bread from heaven. The Old Testament manna fell from heaven to offer nourishment to the chosen people as they traveled through the desert to the promised land. It was a gift given for the journey, but it halted when they arrived. As the fullness of time approached, longing for that bread from heaven increased among those anticipating the coming of the Messiah.  Jesus came to nourish that hunger. He gives us his own body and blood, an offering for our sustenance, as we continue the journey to our promised land, heaven. He gives us his very Body and Blood that we might have eternal life in him.


Conversing with Christ: Jesus, grant me an authentic and living faith.  May I be leaven in this world by my testimony of faith in you and your Eucharist.


Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will be attentive to any false leaven in my way of thinking today, especially any thoughts that make me my own “savior” and arbiter of the way.


For Further Reflection: Catechism of the Catholic Church on Justification, nn.1987-1995,  http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s1c3a2.htm.

Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi who is dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala

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