One of the things I sometimes struggle with, and maybe some of you do too, is that I am often tempted to eat the wrong things. Somehow, if I’m watching TV or something, I get an urge to eat some kind of snack that is not only not very nutritious but also not all that satisfying. In the vast scheme of culinary delights, Doritos or potato chips of course don’t rank very high, yet somehow I find myself tempted by them all the time!
I think there’s a parallel to that in today’s Liturgy of the Word. Jesus knew the disciples could easily be tempted by the “leaven” of the Pharisees and of Herod. He meant the paltry doctrine they taught and the less-than-satisfying way of life they offered. They wanted people to take on a legalistic view of Scripture, living the Torah very literally but not very deeply. Instead, Jesus offered a much more satisfying bread: a life lived deeply rooted in the Gospel, a life that went beyond legalism in favor of diving head first into compassion, concern for the poor and vulnerable, and love for every person that crosses their paths.
The leaven Jesus was talking about had nothing to do with the bread for the journey that they forgot to bring. Instead, he offered a bread for the journey that was his very body and blood, his own self, giving his life for our salvation. That kind of bread is the only thing that is ultimately satisfying. It trumps the bread they forgot to bring, it trumps the so-called leaven of the Pharisees and Herod, it even trumps my Doritos and potato chips. Don’t settle for junk food that won’t give any nourishment when you can have the Bread of Life.