16th Sun A
Reflection is an essential element of our growth in Christ. As we reflect over what we have learnt and ponder it in our hearts, we come to recognise the presence of God in our lives.
This Sunday's Reflection
With the parable of the woman kneading the yeast, Jesus gave one of his most radical challenges to the practice of the Jewish religion. Much of the ‘torah’ – teaching of the law – and its subsequent interpretation stressed upon the religious Jews how different they were from the people around them. The practice of Sabbath, food, purity and clothing laws and circumcision reminded the faithful that God had chosen them from amongst the peoples of the world and made them his own. Even within the Jewish people themselves, how well one adhered to observance of the law was seen as a sign of just how faithful one was.
Now Jesus takes the practice of faith within the world to a whole new level. No longer are the faithful followers of God to be distinct from the world around them but rather they are to be transformative in that world. The ‘yeast’ the woman would have been using was more likely a sourdough culture, which looks like a bubbling slurry of flour and water. When mixed with more flour to make the bread, it completely disappears in the dough and its presence is only known by the change of the stodgy dough into fluffy loaves. This is a process that cannot be rushed – but it can be aided by good kneading. The amount of flour that Jesus says the woman kneaded is extraordinary. Three measures are around 25 kilos – the limit a person could knead by hand and an amount that would serve many more than a family. In fact, it would make enough bread for about 100 people. Drawing lines from the parable into our own practice of faith, we are told that we are to be transformative within our world and generous in the giving of faith.
This parable of Jesus challenges how we see the role of religious practice in our lives. The practice of religion does make us distinctive from the people around us. Our churches look different to other buildings, we worship God communally on Sunday, we adhere to moral codes that the world around us often despises. We are not to do these things to make ourselves feel better than those around us but rather to express our worship of God. Then, living in response of such a loving God, we will go out into our world, trying in every way we can to offer that transforming love to the people of our world.