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February 13

FOCUS:  Jesus challenges us to rely on him in times of need.


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Season 4 of The Chosen opened in theaters this week. The entire season will be shown in theaters over the next several weeks, a couple episodes at a time. My family enjoyed the first showing which included 3 episodes. It is amazing to see the disciples in action. To see how human they are, how much they love Jesus and yet how little they understand who He is. Throughout this season Jesus will repeatedly explain to His disciples His purpose on earth, as His journey to the cross begins, and they repeatedly will misunderstand.

Jesus says in our Gospel today, “Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” The disciples think He is talking about their lack of food. They focus on the literal instead of the symbolic. Jesus is speaking about the words and practices of these leaders that caused sin. Like the yeast that could make the unleavened Passover bread unkosher, the duplicity of the Pharisees and their attention to the minute details of the Law choked off spiritual growth and even caused scandal.

The disciples, like the Pharisees, have already forgotten Jesus’ feeding of the four thousand and seem to interpret His reproof to avoid the leaven of the Pharisees as a scolding for forgetting dinner.  Jesus was talking about their continuing doubt and lack of understanding of His true identity and purpose, both of which come into greater focus as the Gospel continues.

In the first reading from the letter of James we are called to persevere in times of temptation, to win the crown of life. We are tempted and lured by our desires which if acted upon result in sin that could ultimately result in death. We are tempted to spiritual blindness. To ignore the spiritual reality that surrounds us and only focus only on our physical desires and needs. God provides everything we need to overcome temptation, for no temptation is from God. But we must rely on the spiritual strength God offers through His grace and His presence.

We are reminded in the psalm, “Blessed the man You instruct, O Lord.

When I say, "My foot is slipping," Your mercy, O LORD, sustains me.” We can depend on God’s mercy and His presence. Let us pray for a desire to live in both the spiritual and physical presence that surround us and to recognize that all good gifts come from God who longs to provide them to us each time we ask.

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