Thoughts for Wednesday 5th August 2020

Psalm 78:1-8, 17-29; Exodus 16:2-15, 31-35; Matthew 15:32-39


Wednesday 5 August


Addressing children, it’s quite difficult these days to explain why Eric Liddell wouldn’t run a heat, and therefore had to pull out of the competition to win a medal in the 100 metres at the Paris Olympics in 1924, because it was being run on the Christian Sabbath i.e. a Sunday. ‘But why would he do that?’ they keep asking. And, similarly, it’s quite difficult to explain why Runrig, formed on Skye, whose band members were drawn from Highland and Island culture, during a 45 year career which ended in 2018, never played on a Sunday either. ‘But why not?’


At school, I had a Jewish pal whose family observed Shabbat, and I would sometimes be invited round at the weekend, and was always impressed by the preparations in place in order for them to be able to observe a ‘day of rest’ (Exodus 20:10). In some of the Christian homes I knew of, that unfortunately could easily translate into a ‘day of boredom’ for children instead. There was, however, never any hint that Rob might be prohibited by his faith from either sport, music or anything else that was fun. The one thing he wasn’t allowed to do was his homework!


There was always laughter around the table, and as students, I remember two of Rob’s older siblings had appeared on University Challenge, this then becoming an ambition of his as well.


Adherence, in this way, to the Mosaic Law (as it is elucidated here in verse 5 of Exodus 16, before we ever actually get the Ten Commandments themselves) gave them a sense of belonging, but also provided a rhythm to their week – it aided their mental health, and as we read from Psalms and Exodus today, we can see that the same would have been true then as now. The Sabbath/Shabbat gives us something to look forward to, that’s different, to enjoy.


The numbers in our Gospel reading are interesting. They are different to those we find in the feedings of 5,000, and I wonder if you can work out why. Incidentally, I do like ‘food of angels’ in our psalm for ‘manna’ – it’s very poetic.


The place name, Magadan, is interesting. The KJV translation is Magdala. This is modern-day Migdal, and traditionally the birthplace of Mary Magdalene. It’s situated on the western shore of the lake just north of Tiberias. The problem with this attribution, however, is that Mark, which is thought to be older, has Dalmanutha instead (see Mark 8:10).


Let us pray (words by Fr Cesáreo Gabaráin):


Lord, you have come to the seashore,
neither searching for the rich nor the wise,

desiring only that I should follow.

O, Lord, with your eyes set upon me,
gently smiling, you have spoken my name;
all I longed for I have found by the water,
at your side, I will seek other shores.

Lord, see my goods, my possessions;
in my boat you find no power, no wealth.
Will you accept, then, my nets and labour?

Lord, take my hands and direct them.
Help me spend myself in seeking the lost,
returning love for the love you gave me.

Lord, as I drift on the waters,
be the resting place of my restless heart,
my life’s companion, my friend and refuge.


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