The yeast of the Pharisees

The Pharisees and other Jewish leaders approached Jesus with a test, asking him to show them a sign from heaven.

He sighed deeply and said “You know how to read the signs in the sky. When the sky is red at night, you know there will be good weather the next day, and when the sky is red in the morning you know there will be storms. Yet you don’t know how to read the signs of the times! Why does this wicked generation demand to see a sign? It will see nothing except the sign of Jonah.” He walked away from them, got back on the boat, and went to the other side of the sea.

When they reached the other side, the disciples realized that they had forgotten to get more bread. They had only one loaf with them. Jesus said “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees.” They began to talk among themselves about the fact that they didn’t have any more bread.

Jesus was aware of this and he said “Why are you talking about not having any more bread? Don’t you understand yet? Do you have eyes and ears and yet are blind and deaf? Don’t you remember how five loaves of bread were able to feed 5000 people, or that seven loaves of bread fed 4000 people? Remember the number of large baskets of leftover pieces? Why do you not understand that when I said ‘Beware the yeast of the Pharisees,’ I wasn’t talking about bread?”

Then they understood that he was talking about what the Pharisees taught.

MT 16:1-12, MK 8:11-21

Feeding 4,000 people

Another large crowd had gathered around Jesus. He called his disciples to him and said “I have compassion for this crowd because they have stayed with me three days and they have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry then they might collapse on the way, and some of them have come from very far away.”

The disciples replied “Where can we possibly find enough bread in this isolated place to feed such a large crowd?” Jesus asked them “How many loaves do you have with you?” They answered “Seven, and a few small fish.”

He then ordered everyone in the crowd to sit down on the ground. Taking the seven loaves and the fish, he gave thanks and broke them into pieces. He kept on distributing the pieces to the disciples, who then gave them to the crowds. Everyone ate until they were full. They picked up seven large baskets of leftover pieces after the meal. There were 4000 men, along with women and children, in the crowd. He then dismissed the crowd, got into the boat with his disciples, and traveled to a different region.

MT 15:32-39, MK 8:1-10

Healing many people

Jesus then traveled alongside the Sea of Galilee. He climbed up a mountain and sat down. Large crowds came to him there, bringing to him people who were lame, blind, deformed, mute, or had other maladies. He healed everyone who was brought to him.

The crowd was amazed when they saw those who were mute began to speak, those who were lame able to walk, and those who were blind able to see. Even people who were deformed were made whole. Everyone in the crowd gave glory to the God of Israel.

MT 15:29-31

A man who was deaf and had a speech impediment was brought there by a person who begged Jesus to lay his hands on the man and heal him.

Jesus led him away from the crowds so he could heal him privately. He put his fingers in the man’s ears, spat, and then touched the man’s tongue. He then looked up to heaven, sighed deeply, and said in Aramaic “Ephphatha!” which means “Be opened!” The man was instantly freed from his afflictions and was able to see and speak perfectly.

He ordered the crowd to not tell anyone about what had happened, but the more he ordered them, the more they spread the news. They were amazed and told everyone “He does everything well! He even makes deaf people hear and cures people of being unable to speak!”

MK 7:31-37

Perspective – “Lifestyle choice”

If only the people who are up in arms about homosexuality would get a sense of perspective. How are the actions of two mutually consenting adults affecting them?

If they want to get upset, they should get upset at people who murder or rape or steal. These are “lifestyle choices” that have victims. There is an aggressor and a victim – the action between the participants is not mutual or agreed upon by both of them.

Being a murderer or a rapist or a thief is a choice. People choose to do these things. This is how they live their lives – taking from others, using others. They make themselves feel better by making other people feel worse. It isn’t an accident – it is intentional. Thus, acting like this is indeed a lifestyle choice.

The upset straight people should get upset at them instead of gay people. March against them. Protest against them. Make life harder for them. But they should leave people alone who aren’t harming them or anyone else.

In fact, it is a “lifestyle choice” to harass, belittle, and attack innocent people who are different from you. Don’t complain about gay people’s “lifestyle choice” by using your own.

Straight people have a choice too – to live their own lives in the way that they are led to, either by conviction or the rules of their faith or denomination. This means they must live their own lives, and make their own decisions about their own lives. They don’t get the right to make these decisions for others – for the same reason they don’t want others to make these decisions for them.

Gay people don’t want others to be gay, and don’t want to affect or change their ability to marry. They are not forcing how they live on others – they are not trying to turn others into them. But they also don’t want others to force their lifestyle on them.

They want to live their own lives, the same as anyone. They want to live and love in safety and freedom, the same as anyone.

I knew a guy who complained about gay people being able to marry, saying that “The gay lifestyle is all about whoring around and being promiscuous.” I pointed out that the very fact that so many gay people wanted to get married, to settle down with one partner, is the very opposite of whoring around and being promiscuous. He had no reply to this.

Naps for everybody

I wonder if we would all function better if we broke the day into two parts. Wake early, but then have a nap from around 3:00 to 4:30. This is the time that children are irritable and adults are cranky. Perhaps it is a natural biorhythm that we are ignoring.

This is not a new idea. The fact that the word “siesta” exists points to this. But that word is only in one culture. The need for sleep is not cultural but biological. Perhaps it simply means that nobody else is noticing it. It doesn’t mean it isn’t real if nobody is talking about it.

Have you ever noticed yourself or others getting short tempered or snappish mid afternoon? Being hot or overstimulated only makes it worse. You can eat a light snack and drink some water to ease this, but a nap is free and has no calories.

The idea of driving home, taking a nap and driving back to work is not what I intend. Work gets too many hours, weeks, years, of our lives as is. Just go home, have a nap and have the second part of your day your way, refreshed and revitalized.

This is my ideal. I’m working on making it a reality for everyone. We need 30 hour work weeks. We need to become more productive at constructing our own lives, not at our work lives.

On union with God.

All beings can fully hear from God except humankind. We were created without the ability to automatically hear and do the will of God. All other beings (animals and plants included) do the will of God without thought or question. Yet we are different.

Some people can hear God better than others, but no one can fully hear from God like the rest of creation can. Is this a blessing for us, or a handicap?

It means we have to work harder than dogs to be complete.
It means we are dumber than rocks.
It means we are not as clever as cats.

It means God is beyond pleased when…
We are able to push through and overcome our innate obstacles and reconnect.
When we are able to use our gifts for good.
When we are able to join together and act as one to improve the world.

Obstacles make our souls stronger, just like exercise and resistance training makes our muscles and bones stronger.

God needed to create humans to prove to God how good a Creator God is. We are the height of God’s ability. God does not want blind obedience. That is easy to create. If we knowingly and willingly rise above our nature and act in a civilized manner then we are a delight to God.

We are hampered, and yet we can not only endure but thrive. Yet to do that we must intentionally choose to connect with God. God is our missing link. When we reconnect we are complete and whole.

We do not have to die to reunite with God. In fact, reunion with God at death is automatic and easy. The barrier and hindrance that is our bodies is removed. Rejoining with God while in the body is the greatest accomplishment.

Notice how we cheer for someone who has lost a leg and runs a race with a prosthesis. Just having the chutzpah to enter, to even try, is a big deal. To make it to the end at all is huge. To win? Amazing. This is how God feels every single time any one of us unites with God.

Communion isn’t just a ritual or a sacrament. It isn’t just something done on Sunday morning. It means “union-with” and it isn’t limited to a denomination or a practice.

The secret? Look at what Jesus did at the Last Supper, when he initiated what is now the Communion service. He took the simple foodstuffs that were served at every supper table, every day. He didn’t choose something unusual that would be difficult for people to get. He took the everyday, so that we’d be able to do this every day. Then he gave thanks to God for it, and shared it.

Give thanks for and bless everything you are about to receive. Not after, before. We are used to saying thanks only after we get what we want. Do that too, and before. See how your perspective changes. Give thanks for whatever you are going to get, or experience, or be able to do. This applies to everything – food, experiences, material things. Be always thankful. No matter what it is, trust that it is coming from God, as God has created and is within everything.