In today’s First Reading St. James reminds us that temptation does not come from God: God created us as good creatures who sought to do good things. After the Fall of Adam and Eve man’s tendency toward the good was twisted into an unhealthy and unholy attraction to seek and use good things in sinful ways, corrupting us instead of helping us grow in virtue and holiness.
In today’s Gospel the disciples are put on guard against the “leaven” of the Pharisees and Herod. Leaven produces a fermentation in bread that the Jews saw as corruption, which is why in worship they used unleavened bread. Metaphorically, leaven meant moral corruption. For the Pharisees it was hollow, loveless, religious observance without compassion: religious hypocrisy. For Herod, and the Sadducees, religion was just another tool to get what you wanted: worldliness and hedonism.
Temptation always comes across as something small, under the guise of something good or reasonable. When we consent to temptation we start leavening ourselves with corruption. Let’s ask Our Lord to detect and address any “leaven” impacting our lives in a sinful way.
Readings: James 1:12–18; Psalm 94:12–13a, 14–15, 18–19; Mark 8:14–21.