Blessed is the one 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.
Happy are those whom you teach, O Lord,
whom you train by means of your law:
to them you give peace in evil days. (R./)
The Lord will not abandon his people
nor forsake those who are his own;
for judgement shall again be just
and all true hearts shall uphold it. (R./)
When I think: I have lost my foothold,
your mercy, Lord, holds me up.
When cares increase in my heart
your consolation calms my soul. (R./)
The disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And Jesus cautioned them, "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."
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?"
For whatever reason, St Mark often describes the disciples as failing to understand the real point of what Jesus was saying, so that they need further explanation from him. Perhaps this repeated theme echoes the recollections of St Peter, for whom Mark served as an interpreter and assistant in Rome. If this is so, then Peter was very forthright about the patience Jesus needed, to explain his message to them. In today’s text, they worry that they have too little food, as they set off in their boat across the Sea of Galilee.
Jesus tells them not to be worried about “the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.” But they don’t grasp what he means. Was he referring to actual food or to doctrine? Their chatter provokes a volley of questions from Jesus: “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…?” Clearly, he finds them very slow to grasp what he intended by the miracle of the loaves, since ends on the question: “Do you still not understand?”
St James muses about our power to endure the hardships of the present time and he looks to a bright future when we will be like the first fruits of God’s new creation. Like Jesus, James urges us to value the spiritual side of life. How else can one persevere till the end unless by having a deeply rooted hope? This casts light on James’ final phrase, that God wants to make us “a kind of first-fruit of his creatures.” The Word within our heart, produces good fruit in our lives. If at times, we are full of doubts and questions, he wants us to keep wondering, seeking and most of all just being in God’s presence.