“Beware of the leaven of Herod.”
Elsewhere Jesus calls Herod a fox. He presents a political face and an interest in the miracles of Jesus, but is actually hostile to the Messiah. Luke 23:8 records Jesus standing before Herod who was delighted to see Jesus and immediately wants him to perform a sign. When Jesus does not comply, Herod mocks Jesus and has him executed.
The yeast in Herod’s soul was that of ‘sign seeking’ with no real interest in spiritual change. The disciples needed to be warned—they witnessed many, many signs but were struggling with hardened hearts. It is an attitude that says you cannot really know anything for sure. Everything is dubious so remain restless in your doubts.
The leaven of Herod infects us when we listen to our critics too much. We see that they have a point and let their hostility become our own. Only love can shield us from infection.
Janine Economides, an Orthodox writer put it this way:
I realized when I was quite young that a sort of nihilism is capable of denying or destroying anything of value. There's a way to automatically oppose whatever one may desire to oppose in order to tear it down; it doesn't really matter what the subject is. This sort of attitude can be used as a propaganda tool to tear down any form of values and taken to an extreme - and has done so throughout political history.
We must be able to perceive with this organ of the heart, I believe, in order to practice mercy and to perceive value even in general terms. This is the grasping of wisdom that comes not just from intellectual acceptance. And I think it's important that we understand faith in these terms: faith is more than an intellectual acceptance. It denotes relatedness and relationship.
It is about love. Love is what we grasp with the heart and all that is related to it: beauty, truth and goodness. When we recall that God is love, then we begin to grasp Spirit as the "treasury of good things" as it says in an Eastern prayer.[i]
When the disciples were acting as hypocrites and functional nihilists, Jesus confronts them and says, “Don’t you remember what I did?”
A hardened heart is most concerned about his/her own opinion and welfare. A softened heart is more concerned with love.
Has the hypocrisy of religious people and the hostility of two-faced sign seekers tainted your love? Have you eaten a whole bowl of monster dough mentality and been sickened by it? A little yeast corrupts a whole batch of dough.
Let us eat the untainted Bread of Heaven and be satisfied. Jesus is the Bread of Life. Let us remember the goodness that we have known from God. Let every sign of the Kingdom soften our hard hearts.