A little yeast can affect all the dough
Remove sin from your life, and celebrate a new beginning and creation
April 11, 2004 -- Easter Sunday
By Fr. Richard Ver Bust
Sometimes the choice of liturgical readings might mystify us. This would be especially
true about the second reading for this Easter celebration. Yet the first reading may give us a clue to an understanding.
While Peter's sermon to Cornelius in part describes the ministry of Jesus, it also emphasizes the impact of the death and resurrection upon the followers of Jesus.
"He had commissioned us to preach...and to bear witness that he is one set apart by God as judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets testify saying that everyone who believes in him has forgiveness of sins through his name."
It would be easy just to tell the story of the event. Yet Christians have always thought
it was important to also examine and consider what the event of the resurrection of Jesus means to them.
From the beginning the preachers and writers of the word thought it important to reflect on the meaning of this critical act in God's plan of salvation for all.
Thus when we hear Paul's words to the Corinthians we know that he too was seeking to
explain what the impact of the resurrection was upon the life of these people who had come to believe in Jesus.
Paul consistently in his writings goes back to the gift of faith and the experience of his fellow Christians. In the section of the letter from which our text is taken, Paul turns his attention to a type of behaviour that is not Christian. He then probes their conscience by saying, "You have been purchased at a great price. Therefore glorify God in your body." (1 Cor 6:20).
The problem that Paul faced was that for some of the Corinthians the body and physical actions were unimportant. Paul wanted to teach that the body was the means and medium through which we expressed our selves. Jesus' body was important and he gave up life in that body in obedience to God. That is why Jesus' body was now raised by God and exalted.
A specific member of the community at Corinth had done what both Jews and Gentiles considered wrong, that is, he had lived with his father's wife.
Since the Corinthian community had seemed to tolerate this behavior Paul criticized them. He said they were too proud and should be sad that they had allowed this. A little yeast, he reminded them, can effect all the dough. So one evil person could corrupt the whole community.
Paul recalls that in the feast of Passover all yeast and leavened bread must be removed from the house. There was even a ceremony in which the children would search the house for all hidden yeast.
Since for the Christian, the celebration of Easter related to the Passover, Paul uses this symbol of yeast to indicate that the old yeast of sin must be removed from our lives. The Christian life is one of a new beginning, a new creation. The Easter event celebrates that fact.
(The late Fr. Ver Bust directed the master's program in theology at St. Norbert College, De Pere.)