Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. No one, when tempted, should say, "I am being tempted by God;" for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. But one is tempted by one's own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death.
Do not be deceived, my beloved. Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. In fulfillment of his own purpose he gave us birth by the word of truth, so that we would become a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, "Watch out - beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod." They said to one another, "It is because we have no bread." And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?" They said to him, "Twelve." "And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?" And they said to him, "Seven." Then he said to them, "Do you not yet understand?"
'This people honours me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.'
You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition." Then he said to them, "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition! For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must surely die.' But you say that if anyone tells father or mother, 'Whatever support you might have had from me is Corban' (that is, an offering to God) – then you no longer permit doing anything for a father or mother, thus making void the word of God through your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many things like this."
In our first reading we are reminded that God is the giver of every good gift. St James urges us to beoth grateful for the gifts of life and to be generous in sharing them. By contrast, in Mark's story there is a debate about food for the body and food for the soul. The disciples are worried that they have too little bread, as they embark on a hard pull across the Sea of Galilee.
In our own reflections about life, we must also begin with externals. It is the sight of the poor and the oppressed that stirs us into considering what we should do in light of this suffering of others. St James assures us that "Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights." In his view, God intends us human beings to become a kind of first fruits of his creatures and to make generosity the guiding principle of our living.
In the gospel Jesus' response to the disciples turns into a volley of questions which evinces surprise on Jesus' part that his followers acted as they did: "Do you still not see or comprehend? Are your minds completely blinded? Have you eyes but no sight, ears but no hearing? Do you not remember how I broke the five loaves…?" The gospel ends on the question: "Do you still not understand?" This echoes the advice of St. James from yesterday: "If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you."