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The Bible In A Year: Day 43

Leviticus 14-15
Psalm 39
Mark 8

Todays two chapters of Leviticus cover ritual impurity and cleansing from leprosy. The 14th chapter goes over how to determine if a person is free from leprosy and if so, then the sacrifices the need to make to be declared clean once again. The same goes for a house with leprosy, though admittedly I didn’t even know that was a thing until now.

Just like almost all the other sacrifices of the Old Testament, there is the standard sacrifice and the one reserved for the poor who couldn’t afford the standard sacrificial animal.

Chapter 15 is all about ceremonial cleansing of men and woman after regular bodily functions take place. There’s prescribed times that they are to be declared unclean and then sacrifices to return to a clean state.

Mark 8

Here we see another miraculous feeding of a great multitude when Jesus sees they have no food and has compassion on them. But interestingly, when he says to the disciples that they need to feed these people, they once again question where they’ll get so much food from. Didn’t they see him just feed a multitude with only a few loaves and some fish? Maybe they didn’t expect that to be more than a one time thing? Do we forget what God has done for us, because we don’t expect to receive again and again?

The miracles of the multiplication of the loaves, when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, prefigure the superabundance of this unique bread of his Eucharist. The sign of water turned into wine at Cana already announces the Hour of Jesus’ glorification. It makes manifest the fulfillment of the wedding feast in the Father’s kingdom, where the faithful will drink the new wine that has become the Blood of Christ.

CCC 1335

After leaving the 4000 people that he just fed on seven loaves and a couple fish, he gets into an argument with the Pharisees (once again), and they go back in the boat to find more a more faithful crowd that what was waiting at the last stop. It’s during this boat trip that Jesus warns the disciples to “beware the leaven of the Pharisees” and for some reason they interpret this to mean they have no bread. But Jesus reminds them that he just fed 5000 and 4000 people with several loaves, so them having just one on this trip wouldn’t be a problem for them.

He then asks how many baskets of leftovers were taken up, and they reply 12 when he fed the 5000 and 7 baskets when he fed the 4000. He then point blank asks them how they still don’t understand. Mark doesn’t give us any other clues here as to what Jesus meant, but some biblical scholars point back to the previous chapter where the gentile woman asks to metaphorically eat the scraps that fall from the table, and in this light the 12 baskets from the first miracle represents the tribes of Israel and their New Testament equivalent in the apostles, and the 7 baskets represented the 7 gentile nations that lived in Canaan at the time of the conquest. So what they say Jesus means here is that these baskets represent the gospel going first to the house of Israel and then to the gentiles, and all the while the apostles must beware of false teachings and hypocrisy like the Pharisees because a little leaven can go a long way.

Next up in this gospel reading is Jesus healing a blind man by using his own saliva and laying his hands on him. But the healing doesn’t happen at once perfectly, it happens in stages.

Jesus heals the blind man to announce the mystery of redemption. As God Incarnate, Jesus heals man through the sacrament of his human nature, here signified by his hands and spittle. This grace cures our spiritual blindness gradually, and, as with the blind man, progress is measured in proportion to our faith.

Saint Bede

He uses his spittle to heal him in a similar way to the healing of the deaf man in the previous chapter. Much like the sacraments heal our body and soul by touching both.

The restoration of the blind man signifies our gradual increase in wisdom, from the darkness of ignorance to the light of truth. Christ’s spittle is the perfect doctrine that proceeds from his mouth; it enhances our vision and brings us progressively to the knowledge of God.

Saint Jerome

The chapter ends with possibly the most powerful rhetorical question ever asked, “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and give up his soul?” It so powerful because we can place many things in front of us as roadblocks in our relationship with God, but none are even as valuable as the entire world, which would be to little in exchange for something so valuable. Everyday people all over the world give up their souls for the smallest things. Don’t make that mistake.

Tomorrow’s Readings:
Leviticus 16-19
Psalm 40

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