22 September 2013

posted 19 Sep 2013, 20:09 by C S Paul

22 September 2013

Sermons Based on the Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Second Sunday after the Festival of the Cross/ Sleebo Feast


Gospel Reading for this Sunday 

Matthew 16:5-12 New International Version (NIV)

The Yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees

When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 

“Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”

Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith,why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread?

Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 

10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 

11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 

12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Distortions Called Yeast 

by HG Yakob Mar Ireanios

"God made human beings straight forward, but they have devised many schemes." Eccl. 7:29

Scheming has assumed the proportions of a dignified art! What has been created good and straightforward degenerates into downright corruption and immorality. The 'fall' has been so grave that the ground of separation between good and evil is getting thinner and thinner with the passage of time, whether it is the Delhi Commonwealth Games, Cricket match fixing scandal or the rhetoric over the danger of climate change. Corruption becomes sweeter, since "stolen water is sweet and bread eaten in secret is pleasant." (Proverbs 9:17)

Jesus warns us against the big hoax played on us by the powers that be including autocratic administrations, ideologies, Glittering advertisements from multi-national companies and some Faith movements as well which 'rule the roost today. The Lord names them as " yeast" perhaps referring to the style of their functioning and the seductive techniques they apply to entice as many as possible.

The Pharisees and Sadducees are proverbially the "goodie-goodie" people of the times. They appear as the protectors of the "Law" and guarding everything towards the welfare of all! Yet they are the real cancers, eating in the vitals of whatever is good and virtuous. Yeast seemingly is small in quantity, but slowly it works in secret, affecting and seducing maximum minds as possible. As explained by him, effacing the misunderstanding of the disciples, yeast here refers to false teachings. 

The Pharisees and Sadducees were religious leaders and were learned; however, their teaching techniques were relatively limited as against the options open for teachers today. As thinking persons, it is our duty to "scan" the voluminous 'literature' on religion, commerce, ideologies, trade relationships etc. to identify their essential value. The advertisement industry cajoles us to take in magic formulae, with little discernment.

In life, one confronts situations clear or otherwise, the Lord counsels us to take everything with a pinch of salt. Many people learn the lesson "all that glitters is not gold" the hard way; sometimes only after losing their money, prestige and good name!

In the field of religion, especially, there is a lot of yeast making the rounds. We have around us spiritual "gurus" promising Shanti and Nirvana and what not. There are Christian sects which seem to sell an apparent euphoria over "miracles" to attract credulous people to their fold. These faith groups are advocating worldly prosperity and other worldly 'salvation' through means of easy access. The tribe of Pharisees were demanding Jesus to perform a miracle, and this demand brought them condemnation from Him. Real faith is not to be thus commercialized. God men of our times, Christian or otherwise, claim to perform miracles, and thus a culture of real or fake miracles is "tom-tomed' as the cornerstone of a life of faith. Thus people are duped to believe that miracle is greater than faith itself!

The process of education has numerous possibilities in grooming and directing human thinking and convictions. The Bible says that it is God who teaches all. So human teachers are instruments in the divine hands. Teaching of any hue has to acknowledge this obligation and show a sense of responsibility. No teacher is perfect except the Divine Teacher. Pharisees and Sadducees were teachers as well. So they could influence the life and thinking of the people. Hence the warning from the Lord!


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