TUESDAY HOMILY: Dough and Divine Development
Here is the ultimate meaning of the gospel: that the Holy Spirit himself is the yeast and we are the dough, and as the dough is totally transformed, so we are to be totally transformed into Christ--who is, lest we forget it--also the Bread of Life.
That tiny spoonful of what looks like powder seems like nothing, but without the yeast the flour, water, sugar and milk mixture remains a lump of hot, sticky goop. That seemingly ineffectual powder called yeast works it's way through the dough like magic.
In today's gospel Jesus likens the kingdom of God to the yeast and the dough. Like all parables, there are many levels of meaning. I'm going to start by going all theological and say that this points to the development of doctrine. Jesus didn't tell his disciples everything. He said his disciples could not understand everything during his time with them and promised that the Holy Spirit would come and "teach them all things."
Christ's teaching was like the spoonful of yeast that moves through the dough and expands to grow into a wholesome loaf. The finished loaf looks nothing like the spoonful of powdered yeast, but one comes from the other. Likewise, the Catholic doctrines may sometimes look strange compared to the simple life of Christ, but they have grown from the gospel as the yeast transforms the dough. The fifth century theologian Vincent of Lerins explained how doctrine develops in the church:
"The growth of religion in the soul must be analogous to the growth of the body, which, though in process of years it is developed and attains its full size, yet remains still the same....This, then, is undoubtedly the true and legitimate rule of progress, this the established and most beautiful order of growth, that mature age ever develops in the man those parts and forms which the wisdom of the Creator had already framed beforehand in the infant..In like manner...Christian doctrine follows the same laws of progress. It is consolidated by years, enlarged by time, refined by age, and yet is uncorrupted. It is complete and perfect."
So, for example, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin was defined in 1854, but the seed of this doctrine was planted way back in the garden of Eden. It developed as our understanding of the mystery of the Incarnation expanded and matured. From the virgin birth we came to understand her perpetual virginity and from this belief we came to understand the Immaculate Conception.
This is how the faith develops and grows through history, but this is also how the faith grows in our own lives. Spiritual life is gradual, natural and organic. As we grow and mature the faith grows and matures within us.
So often we want something dramatic and stupendous to happen in our spiritual lives. We look for a miracle. We want a great answer to prayer. We want that hallelujah moment. We want God to intervene and wave his magic wand and change us instantaneously and without too much effort. This is not the way it works.
Instead, true and lasting spiritual growth takes place gradually--even imperceptibly. The spirit grows in grace as the whole person grows and makes its pilgrimage through life. If this is true, then there are several precepts to remember.
First we must realize that the growth in grace is no more automatic than the growth of the seed into the tree. Remember Jesus' other parable about seeds. Some of them are taken away by birds. Some fall on stony ground. Some grow among weeds. The yeast doesn't always take. Sometimes the loaf falls flat and has to be thrown out. If we want to grow in grace; if we want the faith to develop in our lives, then we have to co-operate with grace and do everything we can to nurture our spiritual lives.
Secondly, we ...
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Year of Faith News
- FRIDAY HOMILY: Is It Lawful or Just a Lower Standard?
- THURSDAY HOMILY: Becoming Salty Christians in a World Without Flavor, Rotting from Within
- True and False Spirituality: Beware the Friends of Job or How to Deal With Fair-weather Friends
- WEDNESDAY HOMILY: Finding God Where You Would Rather Not Look
- TUESDAY HOMILY: Holy and Unholy Ambition
- SUNDAY HOMILY: The Happy Priest - Come Holy Spirit
- MONDAY HOMILY: I Do Believe, Help My Unbelief!
- We Need a New Pentecost: Come Holy Spirit, Come With Your Fire!
- Peter and John, Two Pillars and Two Paths
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?