Friday reflection from Nigel Price

Reflection for Friday 15th July 2022

Today we celebrate St Swithun , Bishop of Winchester for ten years in the 800s. But, rather than that, we all know that the weather on St Swithun’s Day will hold for the next 40 days, so we look set for a dry spell!

Matthew 12.1-8

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath.”
Jesus replied, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for them to eat, but only for the priests.
Or haven’t you read in the Law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and yet are innocent? But I tell you that something greater than the temple is here.
If only you had known the meaning of ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Reflection

The Pharisees were a bit like the investigative journalists of our current time, on the trail of someone doing good who they wish to ‘catch out’.  To discredit and remove from the running. Because everyone has something to be ‘discovered’.  So they ask about the behaviour of his followers, in the same way perhaps that there has been a lot of attention to ‘parties’ recently.

But Jesus doesn’t take the easy route of explaining, well they were hungry and maybe human hunger trumps the sabbath law. He raises the stakes much higher, bringing King David into the equation.  He challenges them, reminding them what David did in the temple, bursting in and giving the consecrated bread to his men who needed food.  This is not just using an excuse to get around a law, it is not saying that people are more important than things, it is saying that Jesus and his followers are more important than the Temple.

And in saying that he is claiming that he is the true King and that he and his followers matter more than the Temple and all that goes on in it.  No wonder the Pharisees were so incensed.

Are we trying to uphold systems today in our community above the needs of real human beings?  And what would it mean for the son of man to be the master of them?

And so we pray the Collect for St Swithun:

The Collect

Almighty God,
by whose grace we celebrate again
the feast of your servant Swithun:
grant that, as he governed with gentleness
the people committed to his care,
so we, rejoicing in our Christian inheritance,
may always seek to build up your Church in unity and love;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen