Tuesday, November 08, 2005


While reading through the documents of Vatican II, I noticed that a metaphor frequently applied to various things or groups is that of being a "leaven."

  • The Gospel is "a leaven of liberty and progress in human history" (Ad Gentes, 8)
  • Students are to be taught to be "a saving leaven in the human community" (Gravissimum Educationis, 8)
  • Religious are to be "a leaven in the world for the strengthening and growth of the body of Christ" (Perfectae Caritatis, 11)
  • The Church is to serve "as a leaven and as a kind of soul for human society as it is to be renewed in Christ and transformed into God's family" (Gaudium et Spes, 40)
  • And finally, the laity are to "work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven" (Lumen Gentium, 31) In fact, in three separate instances the laity are prompted to function as a leaven.

I love this image! We all know what leaven is. It's a substance which, with only a small amount, makes an otherwise little lump of dough rise into a substantial loaf of bread. The dictionary also gives the following, more metaphorical definition: An element, influence, or agent that works subtly to lighten, enliven, or modify a whole. I love that phrase - "works subtly."

So, in effect, Vatican II was calling all the above groups, especially the laity (that's us!) to function in the world in such a way that we subtly have an influence upon the world around us that brings it closer to Christ. Nothing new here, conceptually. But it is a great image that can breathe new life into our daily activities.

Think about that the next time you're deep in prayer, giving to the poor, or evangelizing the Gospel to someone. What you're really doing is being the yeast in the loaf of God's kingdom...


At 11/13/2005 6:55 PM, Anonymous lisieaux said...

Wow! This is really food for thought. Thanks!


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