Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
When I read today lectionary readings from the old and new testament, I wondered why were these to stories paired together? The first describes the beginning of Exodus with the feeding on the lamb and the marking of the doorposts with the blood of the lamb. The new testament reading is the Pharisees criticizing Jesus and his disciples for gleaning wheat from a field on the Sabbath. What do these two stories have in common? In the first the lamb brings together the Hebrews as a people and the blood on the doorposts is a sign to protect them from destruction. That sign of blood too separates them from the Egyptians; it serves not only as protection from destruction, by also links these Hebrews together. When they begin their Exodus, they do so as a people united under their God. They understand the need both to be united and also the need to separate themselves from those Egyptians.
In the story of Jesus and his disciples gleaning wheat on the Sabbath, as these disciples walk through the wheat field they to become united with Christ. They begin to form around him and become a cohesive group discernible from those such as the Pharisee. As they glean wheat kernels from the field, they too glean the wisdom of Christs teaching. When the pharisee confronts them regarding their breaking of the laws of the Sabbath, Jesus presents one argument and the Pharisees present theirs. The disciples soon will have to choose which path to take. Do they continue to stay with the Pharisees, or do they make an Exodus and follow Christ? The Hebrews made a commitment to leave Egypt for a promised land. Followers of Christ also must consciously make that same commitment. These disciples gleaning of a few grains of wheat is hardly a commitment, but it is gathering the faith and strength to do so when they are ready.
[The gleaning of wheat also is reminiscent of how Jesus gleaned disciples as he wandered through the region, gathering together his disciples to form that one mystical body of Christ. It is those grains of wheat that come together to form the bread that form the Eucharest.]