TRAN: A fresh batch of dough

April 11, 2023

(Photo by James Ramos/Herald)

Around this time each year in campus ministry, there is much to celebrate and praise God for his blessings. Easter has come (Alleluia!), graduation season approaches, and we begin to wrap up the academic year full of God’s abundant graces.

Campus ministers often pay extra special attention during this time to our soon-to-be graduates, remembering our journeys with them as they prepare to enter the workforce, continue their education at another school, consider entering religious life, or go wherever the Lord is leading them.

With each group of graduating students, I continually find myself being inspired and enkindled by their earnest aspirations to do good and make positive changes in a broken and hurting world.

Despite the inherent turnover of students, complete with sweet sorrow at each graduation, I have seen our campus ministry be renewed for the better by the spiritual gifts that each class brings. It gives me tremendous hope and joy for the upcoming group of freshmen students who will arrive en masse in the fall whom I will also have the privilege to get to know and accompany during their four years journey on campus.

The young Church today desires to see more faith in action. They are more likely to walk the talk of what they believe and put their values into practice. They hunger for justice and take advantage of each possible opportunity and avenue for advocacy. They are more connected and fluent on social issues. They are also not afraid to listen to diverse opinions and address hard topics because they deeply aspire to uphold truth and sincerity while mindfully keeping respect for others. They also desire to live more simply in a burgeoningly complex time.

On Easter Sunday, we read Paul’s words to the Corinthians about unleavened dough. “Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough? Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough, inasmuch as you are unleavened” (1 Cor 5:6-7).

Unleavened bread was what was instructed to the ancient Jews to use for the feast of the Passover as it serves to recall what had happened to the forefathers when they were exiled in haste and had no time to leaven the bread. In preparation for this feast, all traces of old bread were removed from the house, and during the festival, only unleavened bread was eaten. Yeast, or leaven, which induces fermentation, came to be understood as a symbol of sin and corruption.

Similarly for Holy Communion, we use unleavened bread just as Jesus would have done at the Last Supper. However, in the message to the Corinthians, St. Paul expresses that through Jesus’s paschal sacrifice, this ancient tradition of unleavened bread acquires a new meaning.

Since Jesus Christ, the New Passover, sacrificed himself for all, we too, thanks to him and through him, can become “new dough,” the “unleavened bread.”

I believe the young Church, through its special gifts and charisms, are pioneering ways in our mission of transforming the world into a “fresh batch of dough.” Ministering with and alongside students has continually taught me to be mindful of clearing my own leaven. Where am I not cohesively practicing what I believe are moral and spiritual truths? Where am I seeing injustice? How am I being called to address it?

Let us continue to walk together, accompany, and pray with the young Church as they share and teach us in how to do this work of “clearing out the old yeast” and continually becoming “new dough.” This Easter, may the proclamation and rejoicing of our universal Church continue to spread throughout the world as we joyfully sing Alleluia. May we sing not only with our voices but let us sing it above all with our hearts and with our lives, in a manner of life that is “unleavened” — simple, humble, and fruitful in good works. 

Mimi Tran serves as campus minister at the Rice Catholic Student Center.