THE “YEAST” OF MERELY-HUMAN TEACHING
“When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Watch out, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ They said to one another, ‘It is because we have brought no bread.’ And becoming aware of it, Jesus said, ‘You of little faith, why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How could you fail to perceive that I was not speaking about bread? Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees!’ Then they understood that he had not told them to beware of the yeast of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Mt 16: 5-12)
So, Jesus was not warning the disciples against procuring “bread” from their religious authorities, the Pharisees and Sadducees. In any event, the disciples didn’t need to do that, when our Lord provided for them, when it came to their “daily bread.” Just as He provides for us, glory be to Him.
What Christ is talking about, when He mentions the “yeast” of these religious leaders, the Pharisees and Sadducees, is the insidious, merely-human elitism and God-less arrogance that “drove” their teaching. They taught “human precepts as doctrine” (Mt 15: 9), instilling in their followers their own kind of confidence in the merely-human, which was closed to the voice of God and His Spirit. This was their “yeast,” which passed through their teaching silently, and yet effectively, teaching their people to rely solely on the voices of men, specifically those of the Pharisees and Sadducees, rather than on the voice of God.
Thank you, Lord, for this warning, which happens to be our Church’s reading for today. Let me be open to, and receive, a different kind of “yeast” today, of the kingdom of heaven (Mt 13: 33), rather than of the kingdom of men.