Happy Monday of the 17th Week in Ordinary Time!
Do you like to cook?
I really do. From soups, salads, and vegetables to pasta, sauces, and barbecue — even something as simple as dishing up some cheeses, fruit, nuts, and bread — I truly enjoy my time in the kitchen or at the grill, no matter what it is I’m preparing. And when I’m sharing something I’ve prepared with other people, well – that’s just a little glimpse of heaven to me.
One thing that has always fascinated me, though, is bread. Making a good loaf of bread is an art… and for me, the most beautiful is the most simple. You just need flour, water, sea salt, a few teaspoons of sugar, some olive oil, and a little yeast.
But you know what? It’s the yeast that really does the trick.
Sure, you might argue that the rest of the ingredients would make an ok flatbread, but it would be dense. Bringing yeast into the picture makes the dough expand and rise. It creates a light, fluffy center and a crisp, tasty crust. Can’t you just hear the crackle of a fresh baguette when you break it in half? The yeast takes all the other ingredients and completely transforms them into something different. Something bigger. Something better.
And here’s the amazing thing about yeast: You don’t need very much. Just a little bit will make an enormous difference.
In the Gospel today (Matthew 13:31-35), Jesus tells this parable: “The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took & mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened.”
During the Dismissal Rite at the end of the Mass, the Priest or Deacon will say, “Go, and proclaim the Gospel by your lives.” We are, at that moment, given the charge to go and be the yeast in the dough.
The greatest thing about it is, just like yeast we really don’t need very much to make a tremendous difference. It really comes down to us mixing in with our brothers & sisters, the Children of God. When we do that, we “Leaven the flour” in our part of God’s Kitchen.
It’s about sharing our care and compassion and companioning people on their journey. It’s all about loving one another just as Jesus has loved us. And when we share love with other people, we really get the chance to have a little glimpse of what heaven really is.
And for me, friends, well… that’s the very best meal I can ever hope to prepare.
you are the Master Chef,
gathering all the ingredients needed
in order to create incredible. Amen.
Peace and leavened love to you today, and forever.
Paul Puccinelli is the Director of Liturgy & Music at St. Rita Parish in Sierra Madre, California, and a member of the retreat team at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center.