Scripture for this Sunday: 2 Samuel 11.1-15 (the story of David and Bathsheba); Psalm 14; Ephesians 3.14-21; John 6.1-21
(the feeding of five thousand).
It might be a bit risky to take as a subject or an example something few of us can have read in depth, but the development of the character Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s new old book, Go Set A Watchman, has unleashed a lot of discomfort in reviews.
Perhaps the unease is related to the toppling of a heroic idol, shown now to be a rather difficult mix of characteristics. Perhaps it is because we are reminded that we ourselves are not ideal. Perhaps it is because Gregory Peck is stuck in our memories and – well – he just wouldn’t be like that!
We find a similar shattering of illusion in the maturing of David, the shepherd boy who became king, and then started to fulfil Samuel’s warnings about rulers – such as the one about taking sons and daughters. And wives.
Bathsheba’s plight is actually even more shocking than an extra-marital affair, because it carries undertones of power used for sexual exploitation, leaving many feeling that justice for her is missing, even when David is called to account by Nathan for the fate of Uriah the Hittite.
What do we do when there doesn’t seem to be enough justice? Perhaps, if there is the equivalent of five loaves and two fishes, we need to bring it to Christ, have it blessed, and distribute it in the world. If we work on spreading the little amount of justice that we do have, perhaps we will find that it goes further than we expect.
There are still women like Bathsheba; there is still greed; there is still exploitation of power. Which means that there is work to be done.
Which version of Atticus Finch within ourselves will we bring to the fore to deal with injustice? Or will we simply watch, passively? Remember – the flawed individual of Go Set A Watchman is still the same character who rescues a black youth from injustice in To Kill A Mockingbird. The flaws simply emphasise that five loaves and two fishes can go a long way in spreading justice, as well as feeding a multitude. We just have to take them before Christ to be blessed and distributed.
We are abundantly fed with a lot more than five loaves and two fishes in the Eucharistic feast, a reminder of Christ’s love and sacrifice. Can we give thanks for what we have, even if it does seem like an inadequate five loaves and two fishes, and spread it in the world, resisting the temptation for greed and abuse of power?