In today's Gospel (Mark 8:14-21), the Lord tried to explain to his disciples that quality is more important than quantity. He uses the example of bread, warning them to beware of the "leaven" (yeast) of the Pharisees and of Herod. The Pharisees were a small group, and Herod one man, yet He knew that their influence could have a profound effect on people, and not in a good way. The tiny grains of yeast, when mixed with the rest of the ingredients, are the catalyst for thee process which makes the other ingredients change completely. Just as a small bit of yeast can cause the entire loaf to rise, so too a bad influence, even if it is small, can effect the entire community.
He then reminds them of the two occasions when He multiplied the loaves and fishes. In these, the foresight of the few people who thought enough to bring something to eat and had the generosity to share with others was the reason so many were able to eat. These good acts were multiplied and impacted the greater community. Just as the yeast impacted the entire loaf, so too the generosity of a few people impacted the whole community.
This presents us with a challenge, then. Every day we are presented with opportunities. We can have a positive impact or a negative one. Whether at home, work, school or with friends and acquaintances, what we do matters. One word or gesture on our part can change someone's day, or maybe even their life. There is a commercial that has been on TV quite a while now, in which one person does something nice for another person. Either the recipient of the act of kindness or someone who sees it does something nice for another person. And so on, and so on.Even though they are trying to sell insurance, it really illustrates the Lord's point in a modern setting.
Today each of us will be given countless opportunities to impact the lives of others. Very few of them will seem important to us. But the way we act, the way we respond to these opportunities can effect our entire community. I hope we can all be on the lookout for these opportunities and take advantage of them. An old song (as old as me!) sung by Kitty Kallen said it wonderfully - "Little Things Mean a Lot."