The Good News for the Day, July 21, 2017
Friday of the Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time (393)
Jesus was passing through a farmer’s harvest field on the day set aside for rest. His followers—hungry—began to pick the ears of the crop and eat them. When some Pharisees saw this, they mentioned to Jesus, “Look how your disciples are doing something unlawful on the holy day.” He responded to them, “Have you not read what David did—how, when he and his guerilla fighters were hungry, he went into the very house of God where he ate the “bread of offering,”—something which neither he nor his companions—only the priests—could eat lawfully? Or have you not read in the law that on the holy day priests serving in the temple violate the holy day but remain innocent? The truth is—there is something greater than the place of prayer here. If you only knew what this meant, I desire an act of compassion, not an act of worship, you would not have condemned these innocent men. The Child of Humans is Master of the ritual holy day.”(Matthew 12)
Like these Pharisees, many want to tell others how to behave towards God—how to be sure to set aside time for worship, rest, and reflection. Sincerity and piety defines the religiosity of these Pharisees. Jesus responds with history—an example He recalls from a great hero of their common tradition—David. Engaged in a military rebellion against King Saul, David and his guerilla band broke the taboo—ate sacred bread (akin to eating the Eucharist for bodily nourishment during a civil war).
What is the Good News of this story—and the story within the story? I believe the point—again—is utterly simple and very hard to understand! It is not in persuasive, legal or written words that we find what to do in the Realm of what is Right—how to “obey”—but in human needs—hunger, hurt, failure, and grief. These tell what to do—these are the Word of God.
Yes, traditions offer valuable examples—but, in the end, it is your choice to satisfy a need which Creation and this moment present. The Good News is your freedom from slavery to mechanical obedience, your readiness to give life—to nourish and heal—THAT is God’s kind of obedience.